Quincy, MA --- Senior Zach Karalis (North Andover, MA) canned a 3-poiner from the left corner as time expired to help the nationally-ranked WPI men's basketball team deal host Eastern Nazarene its first loss of the season Saturday afternoon by a score of 67-65.
The Engineers headed into the contest ranked No. 14 in the D3hoops.com Top 25 while Eastern Nazarene was receiving votes. The loss marks the Lions (9-1) first non-conference setback since November 16, 2012 -- the first game of this year's seniors' careers -- while WPI closes out its pre-NEWMAC schedule with a 10-1 record which marks the fourth straight year the Crimson and Gray have been 10-1 or better to start the season.
WPI regained a four-point lead 63-59 with 2:50 to go as Clyde Niba (Atlanta, GA) knocked down a jumper. With just under a minute remaining, Jaylen Owens (Johns Creek, GA) tossed in a layup and drew a foul for a chance at a three-point play. The senior converted the ensuing free throw to narrow the margin to 63-62. After WPI's Ian Converse (Woodstock, CT) drained the first of two free throws, ENC seized a 65-64 edge with less than 11 seconds remaining in regulation as Owens slipped a pass to David Eddings (Endicott, NY under the hoop for a layup attempt. The senior forward rolled in the shot to knot the score and headed to the charity stripe for a three-point play opportunity for the lead. Eddings connected on his lone free throw chance of the afternoon to put the Lions ahead by one.
Following the free throw, Sean Doncaster (Medford, MA) drove the length of the floor for WPI before dishing the ball to Karalis in the left corner. The senior drained his second career buzzer-beating 3-pointer as the guard also dealt Williams a shocking defeat on December 29th, 2015 at the Salem State Tournament.
Aaron Todd (York, ME) registered a team-best 13 points for the Engineers while Aaron Davis (Marshfield, MA), Karalis and Doncaster each chipped in with nine points. The duo of Davis and Doncaster combined for nine assists while Niba led all players with 10 rebounds and Obi Obiora (Boston, MA) finished with seven boards to go along with six points. Converse also stuffed the stat sheets with eight points, three rebounds and three assists.
Ownes poured in 16 points and dished out five assists on the day. Lequan Gomes (Fairfield, CA) finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Justin Wagner (Oklahoma City, OK) recorded 10 points Eddings posted nine points and five boards.
ENC finished with a field-goal percentage of 49.1% on the afternoon while connecting on 33.3% of their attempts from long range. The Engineers shot 44.3% from the floor and 38.1% from beyond the arc.
The two teams traded buckets and ownership of the lead throughout the opening 10 minutes of play. Eastern Nazarene established a five-point advantage, 22-17, with 8:46 remaining as Anthony Petrilli (Woodland Hills, CA) knocked down a deep trey and Eddings banked in a lay-up. WPI strung together six consecutive points to even the score at 27-27 with 5:22 left to play in the half.
The Lions responded with three straight baskets to reclaim a six-point edge, 35-29. Eddings capped off the 6-0 run with a reverse lay-up after a no-look, over-the-shoulder dime from Petrilli. The Engineers cut the Lions' lead to 35-32 heading into the halftime break on a triple by Zach Karalis with 37 seconds to go.
Eastern Nazarene shot 51.9% from the field in the first half and 55.6% from the perimeter. WPI sported a field-goal percentage of 38.2% at the intermission while draining just 20% of its three-point chances.
The visitors built up a seven-point lead 6:10 into the second stanza after an 8-0 run, 50-43. After a 3:17 cold spell by both squads, WPI widened the gap to 10 on a trey by Karalis, 53-43, with 10:33 remaining. The Lions utilized a 14-4 run to claw back and tie the contest at 57-57. Owens sank a mid-range jumper to pull Eastern Nazarene level with 5:05 left to play before the dramatic finish.
Up next, the Lions resumes conference play Tuesday, January 5th as it hosts Salve Regina. WPI beings NEWMAC play Wednesday, January 6th at Springfield.
Large Portions of Release Courtesy Eastern Nazarene Sports Information