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Cox's 21 Points, Strong Second Half Lifts Scots Over Lions

TJ Cox (photo credit: Anna Dove/Sports Information)
TJ Cox (photo credit: Anna Dove/Sports Information)

DEMOREST, Ga. -- TJ Cox scored a career-high 21 points and the Covenant men's basketball team picked up a critical USA South victory on Wednesday night 69-61 at Piedmont inside Cave Arena.

The victory snaps a brief two-game losing streak for Covenant (5-13, 4-5 USA South) as the Scots remain in contention for a USA South tournament berth. The loss is the third in a row for Piedmont (8-9, 3-4 USA South).

Covenant took a 36-33 lead into the halftime break and forged even further ahead in the second period. After Piedmont took a 39-36 lead on a Justin Vallejo free throw with 15:39 left, the Scots rattled off a 16-3 run. Cox capped the scoring spurt with a layup that gave the Scots a 52-42 advantage with 10:29 remaining. Covenant would not trail again the rest of the way.

Piedmont sliced the Scots' lead to 57-53 after a Jessie Jenkins 3-pointer with 5:23 left, but Cox layup followed by a Will Portlock jumper pushed Covenant's lead back to 61-53. Covenant would make enough free throws from that point on to secure the win.

Cox's career-high point total came on the strength of 6-of-10 shooting from the floor and an 8-of-9 effort at the foul line. Cox also collected five steals and had two assists. Bryant Engbers came off the bench to score 10 point, while Portlock tallied eight points and four assists. Colton McGriff led Covenant with four rebounds.

Covenant shot 47.2 percent (25-of-53) from the floor, the second straight contest the Scots have been 25-of-53. The Scots were 7-of-18 from 3-point land and made 12-of-20 free throws.

Piedmont placed four players in double figures scoring led by Chase England's 15 points. Peyton Luken and Trae Gaines each had 11 points, while Chris Meeks added 10 points and 11 rebounds in the loss. Piedmont connected on 43.5 percent (20-of-46) from the field and outrebounded the Scots 42-22.

Covenant will return to Barnes PE Center on Saturday to face USA South foe Huntingdon. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.

Be sure to follow the Scots all season long on athletics.covenant.edu and on social media at FacebookTwitter and Instagram for up-to-date scores, news and other information.