After enduring their first losing streak of the season, men’s basketball has climbed back to fourth place in the Commonwealth Coast Conference with three consecutive victories.
The Lions defeated CCC rival Curry College on Saturday with an 82-78 home win. Sophomore Eric Lynch (Alpharetta, Ga.) led the Lions with 21 points on 7-for-12 shooting, while grabbing 7 rebounds. Sophomore Jaylen Owens (Cleveland, Ohio) tallied 20 points to go along with 9 assists.
After the Lions beat Curry twice in the regular season last year, the eventual-champion Colonels fought back in the conference semifinals to beat ENC 82-76.
“We cherish every win the same. We try not to worry about what the name on the jersey says,” Owens said. “Every win counts the same.”
“It is nice to beat teams like Curry because of the rivalry we started with them last year, but it feels just as nice as every other win,” he added.
With starting sophomores Jeremy Wagner and Justin Wagner (Oklahoma City, Okla.) combining for 18 points, the Lions’ four starting sophomores scored 59 of the team’s 82 points on Saturday. Junior Alex Jarman (Portsmouth, R.I.), who scored seven points against Curry, is the fifth starter.
“I don’t get too wrapped up in who’s starting the game—I feel like those five guys have been the best at practice, play well together, and think the game the best, so they’re starting now,” head coach Jim Aller said.
Despite seeing an improved effort on defense at times lately, Aller said the Lions have many areas in which they still need to improve.
“We need to improve in all areas of the game, but most notably, in the area of mental preparation,” Aller said. “Good teams know the scouting report and know how to play to maximize another player’s weaknesses while trying to limit his strengths. We’re not there yet.”
Currently 13-4 (7-4), the Lions are in position to host a home playoff game for the second consecutive year.
However, ENC has seven games remaining, two of them against CCC-leading Nichols College (10-1).
With the win against Curry, the Lions improved to 8-2 at the Lahue PE Center this season. Men’s basketball only plays three more regular season games at home.
Owens said the fans have meant a lot to the team this year.
“I can’t even put into words how much the fans help us,” Owens said. “The support is amazing. We love playing in front of such a large and active crowd. They give us an advantage and make us play harder.”
Men’s basketball travels to Bristol, R.I. to take on seventh-place Roger Williams on Tuesday, Feb. 4.
The Lions are back at home at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 8 against Wentworth.