LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- The Covenant men's basketball team rallied from a 12-point halftime deficit and had a lead late in the second half, but the Scots could not hold off LaGrange as the visiting Panthers secured an 86-81 win on Wednesday night in USA South action.
The loss snaps a two-game win streak for Covenant (4-12, 3-4 USA South), while LaGrange (9-6, 3-2 USA South) wins its second straight.
Covenant trailed 47-35 at halftime but shot 53 percent in the second half to make a comeback. The Scots capped an 8-0 scoring run to cut their deficit to 53-50 with 13:05 remaining after a Z Arima steal and a Micah Turner fastbreak layup. Covenant continued on the comeback trail when Will Portlock gave the Scots a 64-63 lead after an old-fashioned three-point play with 10:11 left.
The Scots took their largest lead of the night at 79-75 after a Portlock lay-in with 3:27 remaining. LaGrange responded with a 9-0 run over the next two-plus minutes to grab an 84-79 lead. A TJ Cox jumper made it 84-81 with 23 seconds left, but LaGrange's Braxton Ford secured the win for the visitors with a pair of free throws with 19 seconds to go.
Cox led Covenant with a career-high 19 points, 11 of which came in the second half, and four assists. Portlock and Turner each had 12 points and Bryant Engbers added 10 points off the bench. Ryan Burns grabbed a team-best seven rebounds. Covenant shot 51.7 percent (30-of-58) from the field and 16-of-22 from the free throw line.
Mark Wagner led all scorers with 22 points as he buried six 3-pointers, including the go-ahead 3 with 2:28 left. Wagner has been a thorn in Covenant's side averaging 20 points per game in the teams' last two meetings. Nick Mitchell added 17 points, six rebounds and five assists and Ford chipped in 12 points. LaGrange was 27-of-53 (50.9 percent) from the field with eight 3-pointers. The Panthers held a 32-31 rebound edge.
Covenant will return to the hardwood on Saturday against USA South rival Maryville on the road. Tip-off in Boydson Baird Gymnasium is set for 3 p.m.