LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN-- The Covenant men's basketball team used a stingy defense to stymie a potent William Peace offense and come away with its second straight victory, 63-59 on Saturday afternoon inside Barnes PE Center.
TJ Cox led all scorers with 16 points, going 6-of-6 from the free throw line and converted two big free throws down the stretch with Covenant clinging to a two-point lead.
But it was the defense that came up big, holding a William Peace unit that averages over 76 points per game to 39.6 percent shooting from the floor and 59 points. Will Portlock had five steals and Chris Boyd blocked three shots as the Scots locked down the Pacers.
Both teams started off fast, combining for 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting in the first 3:13 of the game, with Covenant (4-11, 3-3 USA South) leading 13-8. After a layup by Robby Bell pushed the Scots' lead to seven, the Pacers (5-9, 1-2 USA South) went on a 12-2 run to take the lead at 20-17. The game seesawed back and forth for the rest of the half until a Matt den Dulk 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer gave Covenant a 36-31 lead.
In the second half, the game turned into a defensive battle, with both teams struggling to make shots because of the defensive pressure. Each team shot an identical 36 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes on 9-of-25 shooting.
Covenant was able to again push the lead out to seven points, 45-38, when Bell drained a 3-pointer with just over 13 minutes to play. However, the Pacers hung around, and clawed back to forge a tie at 54 on a pair of free throws by Shawn Shaffer with 3:19 to play. Den Dulk followed that with a big 3-pointer on the ensuing possession to give the Scots the lead for good, though the game was in doubt until Cox and Portlock each hit a pair of free throws with under 30 seconds to play.
Den Dulk hit 4-of-6 3-pointers and finished with 12 points, while Portlock chipped in 10 to go with his five steals. Covenant outrebounded the Pacers 37-35, and turned the ball over only 11 times for the game.
For William Peace, Shaffer had 14 points, while Chris Thomas finished with a game-high nine rebounds to go with six points.
The Scots will finish off their homestand on Wednesday when the host LaGrange at 5:30 p.m. in a USA South conference game.