LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- Colton McGriff and Teron Ferguson combined for 26 points and 24 rebounds, but the Covenant men's basketball team could not overcome a sluggish start and a late rally was not enough as visiting Birmingham Southern came away with a 74-64 win on Friday night.
The Scots (4-5) trailed 67-54 with two-and-a-half minutes remaining in the second half before cutting the deficit to 68-62 after a pair of 3-pointers from Ben Phelps and Nate Frierson, mixed with a jumper by Micah Turner.
Birmingham Southern (5-1) was able to make clutch free throws down the stretch, however, to hold off the Covenant rally.
McGriff set a career-high with 14 rebounds, to go along with 13 points, for his second consecutive double-double and the third of the season. Ferguson also had a career night with a final line of 13 points and 10 rebounds, both stats easily outdoing his previous bests.
Covenant also got eight points each from Chris Boyd and Turner. Boyd also collected nine rebounds.
Birmingham Southern was led by leading scorer Larry Thomas as he poured in a game-high 22 points with nine rebounds. Ross Welch recorded 15 points and two assists, while Griffin Schamp registered a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The visiting Panthers bolted out to an early 12-2 lead before three minutes had been played in the first half. From that poin, both teams had a difficult time finding the bottom of the net. Birmingham Southern led 24-12 with 4:43 left in the period before the Scots cut it to 31-22 at halftime.
Covenant shot just 25 percent (7-of-28) in the first half, while the Panthers were only slightly better at 36.7 percent (11-of-30).
In the second half, the Panthers once again extended their lead, this time to as many as 19 points with 8:45 left. The Scots slowly chipped away at the lead, getting as close as six in the final minutes, before the Panthers secured the win.
Covenant improved its shooting in the second half connecting on 48.4 percent (15-of-31) to finish the game 22-of-59 (37.3 percent) from the field. The Panthers shot 38.6 percent (22-of-57), but made 24-of-35 from the charity stripe.
The Scots will ahve to bounce back quickly as they host Berry tomorrow afternoon at 4 p.m. The game follows the women's contest vs. Berry at 2 p.m.