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Leopards Hold on to Defeat Crusaders, 62-61

Leopards Hold on to Defeat Crusaders, 62-61

BOSTON, Mass. – Senior guard Jack Barrett (Reading, Mass.) hit one of two free throws with 6.1 seconds remaining in regulation and Wentworth forced a turnover in the game's waning seconds as the Leopards held on to defeat Eastern Nazarene, 62-61, in a The Commonwealth Coast Conference contest played at Tansey Gymnasium.


Barrett's free throw capped off a wild final 7:38 in which there were five ties and seven lead changes and featured a span of two minutes where neither team would hit a field goal.


Wentworth seized momentum for the start, scoring off the opening tip when senior forward Shane West (Saco, Maine) converted a three-point play just four seconds into the game.  West would give the Leopards a 5-2 lead when he hit his second straight field goal before a three-point play from freshman guard Keith Branch (Boston, Mass.) knotted the game at 5-all.  The Leopards would lead by as many as four points on three separate occasions, including when West put home a layup with 14:17 left, making the score 13-9.


However, the Lions responded by going on a 12-1 run and took a 21-14 lead on a basket by freshman guard Josh Butler (Nantucket, Mass.) with 10:17 left.  A three pointer by sophomore guard Adam Dombrowski (Groton, Mass.) and one free throw from junior forward Sam Herrick (Duxbury, Mass.) cut the lead to three (21-18), but the Lions used an 11-3 spurt to take a 32-21 lead with 3:15 left.  Eastern Nazarene would lead by 11 late in the first half, but four straight points from Wentworth trimmed the lead to seven (34-27) at the break.  The Lions shot 41.9 percent from the floor over the first 20:00, while holding the hosts to just 31.0 (9-for-29).


The Leopards came out of the break and scored the first four points of the second half on a basket by West and two free throws from Herrick.  A jumper by freshman guard Max Barbosa (Dorchester, Mass.) and three pointer from sophomore guard Michael McCoy (Altomante Springs, Fla.) pushed the lead to eight, and, after sophomore guard Brendan Monteiro (Brockton, Mass.) hit a three to cut the lead to five, Barbosa matched it on the ensuing possession, bringing the lead back to eight with 15:01 left.


Wentworth began to chip away at the lead and used a 15-6 spurt to take its first lead of the second half, 49-48, on a basket by junior guard Keenan Burke-Pitts (Auburn, Mass.) with 7:38 left.


The two teams would trade leads over the next three possessions and the Lions held a 54-51 lead with 5:54 remaining when Barbosa, who was fouled while shooting behind the arc, hit two of three free throws.  Senior forward Matt Abbott (Falmouth, Mass.) cut the lead to one before sophomore forward Chima Ezeigbo (Roanoke, Va.) put Eastern Nazarene ahead, 56-53.  Herrick would tied the game at 56-all when he converted a three-point play with 3:42 left.


After Branch hit one of two free throws, Monteiro put Wentworth ahead by one with a driving layup with 1:41 remaining.  However, Branch responded with two free throws with 1:28 left to give ENC a one-point lead.


With 43 seconds remaining, Barrett hit one of two free throws which knotted the game at 59-all.  After a missed free throw by the Leions, Barrett was fouled while shooting and hit both free throws with 29.3 ticks left, giving Wentworth a 61-59 lead.  The lead would be short-lived, though, as the Lions got a layup by Ezeigbo off of a feed from Branch with 20.1 seconds left to tie the game at 61.  As Wentworth was playing for a final shot, Barrett was fouled with 6.1 seconds left.  He missed the first one, but connected on the second one which gave the Leopards the edge.


Eastern Nazarene called time out to set up a final play.  However, West came up with a huge deflection and steal before sending the ball into the frontcourt as time expired, sealing Wentworth's win.


Herrick had 14 points – 10 of which came in the second half – to go along with 12 rebounds and a pair of blocks.  West had 13 points (on 6-for-10 shooting) and six rebounds, while Dombrowski added 11 points and five rebounds.


Barbosa led all scorers with 21 points on 8-for-14 shooting, while Branch (13 points, five rebounds, six assists) and Ezeigbo (10 points, seven rebounds, three blocks) paced the Lions.


With the win Wentworth improves to 5-7 overall and 1-1 in conference play.  Eastern Nazarene sees its two-game win streak come to an end and stands at 2-11 (1-1).  Both teams step out of conference on Thursday night with Wentworth traveling to Eastern Connecticut and Eastern Nazarene hosting Newbury.