ST. BONIFACIUS, Minn. -- Three players scored in double figures for the Covenant men's basketball team, but the Scots could not hold a first half lead as host Crown rallied to pull out a victory late in the second half 79-77 on Friday night.
Covenant drops to 3-4 on the season and will continue its trip to Minnesota on Saturday against Bethany Lutheran. Crown, a member of the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference, improves to 3-6 for the year.
The game came down the final seconds of the second half. With 16 seconds left and the score tied at 77, Covenant had possession of the ball looking for the final shot. Crown's James Brown stole a pass and the host Storm eventually took a 79-77 lead with 5.2 seconds remaining on a layup from Bryce Williams off an inbounds pass.
Covenant had one last chance as Colton McGriff raced past halfcourt and was fouled while in the process of heaving a deep 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds on the clock. McGriff stepped to the free throw line for three shots, but could not convert on either of his first two. McGriff forced a miss on the third try as the Scots hoped for a tip-in but Crown sealed the rebound and the victory.
Even with his misses at the free throw line late, McGriff had an outstanding game with 21 points, 18 of which came in the first half, to go with six rebounds. Chris Boyd nearly had a double-double with a career-high 14 points while collecting eight rebounds and two blocked shots. Micah Turner added 10 points and three offensive rebounds, while Nate Frierson tallied seven points and five assists.
Covenant got out of the gate quickly in the first half as they scorched the nets. The Scots took a 21-9 lead with 13 minutes left in the period after Ryan Burns connected on a pair of free throws to cap a 13-2 scoring run. The lead would grow to as many as 14 points at 39-25 after a McGriff jumper with under five minutes to play. Covenant went into halftime with a comfortable 47-38 advantage.
In the second half, Crown began to rally. Robby Bell gave the Scots their last double-digit lead of the game at 50-40 in the early minutes of the period before the Storm went on an 18-8 scoring run to tie the contest at 58 with 13:19 remaining.
Crown took a 67-62 lead on a Brown jumper at the 9:32 mark, but Covenant would answer with six straight points thanks to jumpers from Bryant Engbers and Boyd. The two teams then traded baskets until the final moments of the game.
Williams led all scorers with 24 points to go along with five rebounds, four assists and four steals for Crown. Billy Berglund and Tom Messner each had a dozen points, while Truman Shetler and Brown recorded 11 apiece.
After struggling the last two games shooting, Covenant connected on 50.8 percent (31-of-61) from the floor. The Scots also outrebounded Crown 39-34. Crown made 40.3 percent (29-of-72) from the field, but countered that with 10 3-pointers and 25 points off 19 Covenant turnovers.
Covenant will make the short drive to Mankato, Minn., for tomorrow's game against Bethany Lutheran. Tip-off is set for a 2 p.m. EST start.