Winners of eight straight games, ENC’s men’s basketball team has clinched a home playoff game for the second consecutive year.
During their current win streak, the men have beat three teams ranked in the top five of the Commonwealth Coast Conference, including CCC-leading Nichols College on Feb. 6. Men’s basketball currently sits in second place with a 12-4 conference record.
Head Coach Jim Aller said having a winning streak like this “is a tough thing to do,” noting how strong the conference is this year.
On Feb. 4, the Lions defeated Roger Williams, 69-55, on the road, their first game of three that week.
“We haven’t won since 2007 at Roger Williams, so we knew we had to come in focused,” sophomore forward Eric Lynch said.
The Lions continued their winning streak two days later, on Feb. 6, beating Nichols College 84-81 on a late steal from Owens. Men’s basketball handed Nichols only their second loss in conference play this season.
On Feb. 8, men’s basketball won their third game of the week, defeating Wentworth, 71-61, for the second time this season.
Last week, the Lions played two teams that they lost to earlier in the year. Men’s basketball beat both Salve Regina and Western New England this time around, improving their streak to eight games.
With two regular season games remaining, the Lions, still in second place, have games against No. 1 Nichols and No. 3 Gordon.
“I feel like we’re in a good position,” sophomore guard Jaylen Owens said. “We really want to get that No. 2 seed so that we can have home court in the playoffs against whoever we play.”
Against Nichols on Tuesday, Aller said the Lions will “have to handle their pressure and attack it.”
“Also need to do a good job guarding the 3pt line, as well as stay out of foul trouble,” he said.
The Lions will then take on Gordon, a team they haven’t beaten since the 2007-08 season, on Saturday, Feb. 22.
“[We’re] going to have to shoot better than we have in the past against them, and do a better job rebounding,” Aller said.
Aller said that the Lions are “playing better than we were in January when [Gordon] beat us.”
If the Lions win both remaining regular season games, they will clinch the No. 2 seed and have home court advantage for at least the first two rounds of the playoffs, granted they win their first game.
“Our conference is very even through the first six,” Aller said. “We could win the whole thing if we play well, or lose the first game if we don’t. There isn’t much of a margin for error.”
The Lions take on Nichols at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 18.
Shelly Greaves contributed reporting to this story.