Golden Bears Clinch CCC Men's Basketball Tournament Berth

Golden Bears Clinch CCC Men's Basketball Tournament Berth
SPRINGFIELD, Mass.--Western New England punched its ticket to the 2013 Commonwealth Coast Conference Men's Basketball Championship Tournament on Thursday with a 71-66 upset of Eastern Nazarene at the Alumni Healthful Living Center field house. The Golden Bears improve to 8-16 overall and 6-11 in the CCC, while the Lions fall to 16-8 on the season and 10-7 in the conference.

Damon Alston led a balanced WNE attack with 15 points, followed by Dennis Rinaldi with 13, Sinclair Lewis had 11 off the bench and fellow freshman reserve DeWayne Wynn chipped in 10.

Eastern Nazarene's Eric Lynch came off the bench to lead all scorers with 16 points, Jaylen Owens added 10 and Chima Ezeigbo posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Alston scored on lay-in to put the Golden Bears up for good, 63-62, with 2 minutes and 12 seconds remaining, and then he secured the win with six consecutive free throws down the stretch.

Western New England used its best shooting performance of the season to take a 32-22 advantage at the intermission, shooting 54.5 percent (12-of-22) from the field. The Golden Bears ended up going 26-for-50, or 52.0 percent.

Western New England won the glass, 35 to 28, and outscored the Lions in the paint, 42-24. Guard Ryan Mickiewicz had a game-tying 10 rebounds and dished nine assists against only three turnovers.

Eastern Nazarene, which has swept first-place Curry in the season series while the Colonels have twice beaten WNE, trailed by as many as 15 points in the second half. Lynch made a lay-in at 9:49 on the clock to give ENC its first lead since midway through the first half, capping a 25-9 run over an 8-minute stretch to turn a 37-22 deficit to go up 47-46.

The Lions eventually led by five points, 57-52, at the 5:18 mark until Rinaldi scored WNE's next five points on a traditional 3-point play in the paint and another lay-in.

The teams then traded baskets until Alston took over to score 12 of WNE's last 14 points.