Dennis Rinaldi Leads all Scorers with 17 Points, but Comeback Falls Short in Quincy

QUINCY, Mass.--Senior Dennis Rinaldi scored a game-high 17 points to lead three Golden Bears in double figures, but Eastern Nazarene built a 21-point lead before hanging on to a 72-63 men's basketball victory in Commonwealth Coast Conference action at the Lahue Physical Education Center on Saturday. The host Lions won their eighth consecutive start to improve to 18-4 on the season, including 12-4 in the CCC, while Western New England slips to 6-16 overall and 4-12 in the conference.

Senior Nick DeFeo added 15 points for Western New England, which shot 40.7 percent (22-54) from the field compared to ENC's 41.8 (28-67). Sophomore Zack Askew chipped in 12 points and three blocked shots.

Jaylen Owens led a balanced Lions offense with 16 points and three assists, followed by Alex Jarman and Lequan Gomes with 13 points apiece and Brian Hard had 10.

Western New England enjoyed a decided 42-32 rebounding advantage as Rinaldi and DeFeo both grabbed a game-high eight rebounds. Askew added seven and junior Musa Elsir had six.

Eastern Nazarene began the game on a 6-2 run 1 minute and 29 seconds in as Owens and Justin Wagner (6 points) drilled back-to-back treys.

Gomes had seven boards off the bench for the Lions, and Jarman and Eric Lynch reeled in six each.

After Western New England tied the score at 8-8, the Lions chalked up five consecutive points to grab a 13-8 lead. Zach Tonello nailed a straight-away three-pointer to cap off the run with 13:13 left to play in the first half.

The hosts widened the gap to 13, 25-12, with 7:20 to play in the period as Owens connected on a three-pointer.

With less than two minutes remaining in the opening frame, Hard sank a trey from the right wing to push Eastern Nazarene's advantage to 15, 38-23.

The Golden Bears cut the deficit to 40-27 just before halftime on a pair of free throws by senior Kevin Wilkes (5 points).

Eastern Nazarene surged ahead to a 21-point margin, 54-33, with 13:14 left to play in the contest as Owens knocked down a step-back three-pointer from the right corner.

The Golden Bears closed out the contest with six straight points, trimming the final margin to nine points.

Western New England returns to the hardwood on Tuesday (7:30 p.m.) when it hosts Salve Regina in a CCC contest at the Alumni Healthful Living Center.

(Editor's note: Eastern Nazarene Sports Information contributed to this game recap.)