RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Covenant men's basketball had to hold off a last second 3-pointer to snap a five-game losing streak on Saturday afternoon with a 78-76 victory over William Peace in USA South play.
The Scots led by as many as 21 points in the second half, but the host Pacers rallied and had a chance to win the game in the final seconds. However, WPU's Nate Strother had his 3-point attempt go off the mark as time expired.
The win is the first in over two weeks for Covenant as they improve to 7-10 overall while picking up a crucial game in the USA South to move to 2-4 in the league. WPU falls to 5-8 on the season and 0-3 in conference action.
Colton McGriff tallied his seventh 20-point game of the season with 26 points on 11-of-20 shooting. McGriff also added four rebounds and a pair of assists. Nate Frierson had 12 points and two assists while Ben Phelps scored all 10 of his points in the first half. Daniel Garrett came off the bench to score 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting. Chris Boyd scored only one point, but had four rebounds, four assists and three blocks.
The Scots shot 53.8 percent (28-of-52) from the field and were 7-of-13 from 3-point land.
Covenant slowly built a comfortable lead in the first half. The Scots took an 8-8 game and went on an 11-3 run over the course of three minutes that was completed by a Garrett layup to give Covenant a 19-11 with 12:22 left in the period. The lead bloomed to as many as 12 points in the half and Covenant took a 41-30 lead into the intermission.
Hot shooting was the key to starting the second half for the Scots as they opened up a 21-point edge by rattling off a 15-5 scoring run in the opening four-and-a-half minutes of the period. McGriff had seven points during that stretch while Micah Turner had five.
But then the Scots went cold and the Pacers began to catch up. WPU would go on a 17-5 run to cut the Covenant lead to 61-53 on a Bryson Gibson 3-pointer with 7:45 remaining. As the Pacers drew closer, Covenant came up with clutch baskets on a few occasions to extend the lead back to two possessions. Frierson and McGriff were both key down the stretch as the Scots held on.
Covenant led 78-76 with one minute to go and managed to hold that margin as WPU missed a pair of free throws with 21 seconds left. After Frierson missed two free throws with 18 seconds to go, the Pacers had one last chance to tie or win the game but Strother's 3 was not on target.
Gibson led three WPU players in double figures with 14 points, 11 of which came at thre free throw line. Chris Thomas added 12 points and Tyquan Nolan chipped in 10. The Pacers shot 43.1 percent (22-of-51) from the floor and 29-of-39 from the charity stripe while outrebounding Covenant 46-28.
Covenant will be on the road again next Wedensday when they travel to face LaGrange. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.