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Scots Put Scare Into No. 1 Seed Averett Before Falling 67-61

Micah Turner (photo credit: Anna Dove/Sports Information)
Micah Turner (photo credit: Anna Dove/Sports Information)

DANVILLE, Va. -- The No. 8 seeded Covenant men's basketball team gave No. 1 seed, and tournament host, Averett all it could handle in the quarterfinal round of the USA South tournament, but the host Cougars rallied in the second half for a 67-61 win on Thursday night.

Covenant ends its season with a 9-17 overall record. Averett advances to the semifinals and will face No. 4 seed Maryville on Friday at 7 p.m. in Danville, Virginia.

Covenant fell behind 7-0 in the early going, but then pulled off one of its best scoring runs of the season. The Scots outscored Averett 22-5 over a span of eight minutes to take a 22-12 lead with 8:30 left in the first half on a Will Portlock layup, assisted by TJ Cox. Covenant took its largest lead of the game at 28-14 with 6:17 remaining after Colton McGriff's layup.

The Covenant defense forced 13 turnovers in the opening half and the Scots would go into the halftime break with a 36-30 lead.

After shooting 46.8 percent in the first half, Covenant cooled off in the second period and Averett would rally. Averett's Cody Stephens drained a deep 3-pointer with 9:52 remaining in the game that gave the Cougars a 49-46 lead. Covenant cut the deficit to one at 57-56 after a Bryant Engbers basket with 4:30 left.

Covenant had possessions with under two minutes remaining and down by three, but Averett came up with the defensive plays and made enough free throws to secure the win.

Micah Turner scored a career-high 14 points, 10 of which came in the first half, on 7-of-8 shooting. Cox had 13 points and three assists while McGriff scored 11 points. Portlock collected four assists and three steals and Teron Ferguson had a team-best seven rebounds to go along with five points.

Covenant finished the game shooting 41.3 percent (26-of-63) with seven 3-pointers. The Scots were outrebounded 42-32 but that was a significant improvement over the rebounding deficit in the teams' first meeting this season.

Averett (18-8) received 23 points from Bradley Robinson and 11 points from Stephens. Charles Bryant narrowly missed a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds. Averett shot 44 percent (22-of-50) from the field, including 9-of-25 from 3-point land. The Cougars made 14-of-24 from the free throw line.

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