The Eastern Nazarene College men’s and women’s basketball teams both advanced to the conference semifinals in their first year as members of the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC). Between the two teams, the Lions netted a 33-20 combined record, a 12-game improvement from their 2017-2018 campaigns.
The ENC men’s basketball squad posted a 14-12 overall record with a 11-5 conference mark, including an impressive 8-3 record within the month of January. The Lions claimed the No. 2 seed in the NECC Tournament, receiving a first-round bye before they fell to Newbury College in the NECC semifinals by the narrowest of margins, 74-73. Juniors Garrett Crandell and Josh Rice were tabbed to the All-NECC second team while senior Nathan Vazquez was named to the NECC Del Malloy Sportsmanship Team.
“Every coach wants their team to show improvement during the course of the season. I am really proud of the team this year in the progress that was made. In the second half of the season we won eight out of 10 games and clinched the second seed in our conference tournament on our last regular-season game,” commented third-year head coach Scott Polsgrove. “The team showed a lot of toughness down the stretch as we had to overcome a number of injuries to key players but had guys step up and play really well in those important games. We only had one senior this year, Nathan Vazquez, who will be greatly missed, but, with mostly everyone else returning, the team is motivated to take a big step next season.”
The Lions’ women’s basketball team garnered a 19-8 overall record, winning their last five regular-season games to finish with a 13-5 NECC record. Eastern Nazarene earned the No. 4 seed in the NECC Tournament and reached the NECC semifinals after defeating Dean College in the quarterfinal round. Junior Shannon Chau was tabbed the NECC Defensive Player of the Year to headline the Lions’ All-NECC selections while junior Kyra Fleharty was selected to the All-NECC first team and senior Tia Toria collected All-NECC third team accolades. Senior Emma Farrow earned a spot on the NECC Del Malloy Sportsmanship Team honors. In a 91-50 win over Lesley College on January 12, 2019, head coach Sacha Santimano earned her 100th career victory.
“Our team did not know what to expect going into this year. More than half of our team was new with new expectations going into a new conference. We had a lot of fun this year and enjoyed coaching such a hard working group,” stated Santimano, who completed her eighth season at the helm of the ENC women’s basketball program in 2018-19. “Overall, we surpassed several goals and continued to take this program down a successful path. We are very proud of this team and what they accomplished this year.”