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Men's Basketball Pulls off Upset at Eastern Nazarene

Men's Basketball Pulls off Upset at Eastern Nazarene

QUINCY, Mass. – Freshman Jherson Colon (Boston, Mass.) poured in a career-high 25 points to help pace the seventh-seeded Wentworth Institute of Technology men's basketball team to an 81-78 upset victory over second-seeded Eastern Nazarene in a Commonwealth Coast Conference quarterfinal.

With the win the Leopards (12-14) snap a three-game losing streak and advance to the semifinal round where they will travel to third-seeded Gordon, a 78-59 winner over sixth-seeded Roger Williams. In the other semifinal contest, fourth-seeded Salve Regina, a 77-76 win over fifth-seeded Endicott, will travel to top-seeded Nichols, a 73-54 winner over eighth-seeded Western New England. Eastern Nazarene sees its season come to an end with a 19-6 record.

Lion sophomore Jaylen Owens (Johns Creek, Ga.) led all scorers with 26 points on the night while adding six assists and four steals. He had a pair of 3-pointers early that gave the hosts an 8-6 advantage. A 7-0 run – with five points coming from Colon – gave Wentworth a 13-10 lead with 14:07 left before senior Brian Hard (Weymouth, Mass.) drained a three to tie the game at 13-all.

The teams would go back and forth until Eastern Nazarene broke a 21-all tie with five straight points as Owens drove to the hoop for a layup and Hard hit another three. A Colon basket and two free throws from sophomore Cam Sennick (Wilton, Maine) cut the lead to one, and, after freshman Christian Lynch (Alpharetta, Ga.) hit one of two free throws to make it a two-point game with 7:24 left, senior Derek Mayo (Casco, Maine) hit a layup and classmate Scott Moran (Orange, Conn.) drilled a 3-pointer to put the Black & Gold ahead, 32-29, with 6:38 left.

Sophomore Justin Wagner (Oklahoma City, Okla.) drilled a three to force the eighth tie of the half with 5:59 left and neither team would score for the next 1:40 until junior John-Michael Fragnoli (Scotia, N.Y.) put Wentworth on top by a pair. After sophomore Eric Lynch (Alpharetta, Ga.) tied the game at 34-all, Colon hit a three and Fragnoli converted a transition layup to give the Leopards a five-point advantage.

Owens and Christian Lynch combined to cut the lead to one with 53 seconds left, but junior Ray Bessette (Dedham, Maine) converted a layup off a long pass from sophomore Ian Therriault (Auburn, Maine) just as the buzzer sounded to give Wentworth a 41-38 edge at the break. Both teams shot well in the opening frame with Wentworth shooting 55.2 percent and Eastern Nazarene shooting 50 percent.

The Lions erased the halftime deficit by scoring the first six points of the second half and took a 44-41 lead on an Eric Lynch jumper 1:32 into the half. Colon answered with a three to tie the game at 44-all, and, after Owens put the hosts back up by two, Sennick tied the game with a basket of his own.

Eric Lynch took a feed from Owens and put the Lions on top by a pair, but Colon ended a two-minute scoring drought by both teams when he drained a three with 15:21 left to put the Leopards ahead, 49-48, with 15:21 left.

Two free throws by Owens made it a 50-49 game with 13:45 remaining before junior Nico Donato's (Glastonbury, Conn.) layup started a 17-6 spurt by the Leopards, which was capped off by a Mayo 3-pointer with 6:23 left, giving Wentworth a 66-56 lead. The Leopards led by as many as a dozen with 5:32 left, however, Eastern Nazarene used a 14-3 run to cut the lead to one on an Eric Lynch basket with 1:03 left.

Layups by Mayo and Colon pushed the lead to five with 30 seconds left before Justin Wagner drilled a three to trim the lead to two with 25 seconds left. Colon would hit two free throws to make it a four-point game with 12 seconds left.

Owens drove to the lane and converted a three-point play with six seconds left, cutting the lead to one with six ticks left. On the inbounds play, Moran was fouled and hit both free throws to make it a three-point game. Eastern Nazarene had one last chance to send the game into overtime, however an off-balance shot from the corner fell short securing the Wentworth upset.

Colon was 8-for-16 from the floor and also had a pair of rebounds and four assists. Mayo recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds to go along with two assists and two steals. Fragnoli also scored in double figures, tallying 10 points and grabbing four rebounds. Wentworth held a 40-32 advantage in points in the pain, an 18-6 advantage on second-chance points, and a 12-2 edge in fast break points.

Owens had a game-high 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting to go along with six assists and four steals. Lynch and Wagner each had 14 in the loss.