Berea Too Much for Women's Hoops in USA South Tourney

Emma Grimes (Nina Grauley/Sports Information)
Emma Grimes (Nina Grauley/Sports Information)

BEREA, Ky. -- The No. 5 West seeded Covenant women's basketball team could not overcome a double-digit first half deficit and fell to No. 1 West seed Berea, 78-66, on Saturday afternoon in a USA South Tournament quarterfinal.

The loss for Covenant (14-12) ends the year for the Scots and a program-record tying eight-game win streak. It is also the most victories in a season for the Scots since entering Division III. Berea (22-3) advances to the USA South Tournament semifinals and will take on No. 2 East seed Ferrum next weekend in Greensboro, N.C.

Joanna Smith led the Scots with 19 points and seven rebounds, while seniors Emma Grimes and Jessica Bell scored 12 and 11 points, respectively, in their final collegiate games. Grimes hit four 3-pointers and Bell added three rebounds and two steals. Kaley Hallmark totaled 10 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists.

Both teams found the range in the first quarter as Berea led 25-22 at the quarter break. Bell had seven of her points in the period and her basket with 3:55 left gave Covenant a 15-14 lead. A Taylor Robinson 3-pointer tied the score at 22-22 with 33 seconds remaining in the period, but Berea's Jaime Roberts drilled a trey to give the host Mountaineers a three-point lead entering the second.

Berea went on a 10-0 run to begin the second quarter as Covenant went scoreless for over five minutes and trailed 35-22. The Scots made a run before halftime and trimmed the deficit to four, 37-33, as two Hallmark free throws capped an 11-2 run for Covenant. Berea's Zacchea Small made a driving layup near the end of the half giving the Mountaineers a 39-33 lead at intermission.

Covenant stayed within striking distance of the Mountaineers throughout the final two quarters, but would never regain the lead. The Scots trailed by 14 at one point in the third and by 13 entering the fourth period, but sliced into the margin by scoring the first six points of the final period, capped by a Smith layup, to get within 61-54 with 8:10 left. A Smith triple on Covenant's next possession got the Scots within six, 63-57, but that was as close as it would get.

Covenant connected on 35.1 percent (20-of-57) from the floor with eight 3-pointers to go along with an 18-of-21 effort at the foul line. Robinson added eight points and four rebounds off the bench for the Scots.

Berea got 26 points and eight 3-pointers from Bri Lanham. Adriana Williams had 19 points and Nekeisha Greene 10, while Small tallied six points and 10 rebounds. The Mountaineers made 45.9 percent (28-of-61) for the game with 10 3-pointers and a 41-34 rebounding edge.


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