LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- In a game that featured 15 ties and 20 lead changes, the Covenant men's basketball team held off visiting Piedmont for a 76-71 USA South victory on Tuesday night at Barnes PE Center.
The win snaps a three-game losing streak for Covenant (6-6, 1-1 USA South).
TJ Cox scored 12 of his 17 points in the second half as he went 11-for-12 from the free throw line. Berto Dryden led a Covenant bench that outscored the Lions 40-18 with 12 points and two steals. Daniel Garrett just missed a double-double with nine points and eight rebounds along with three steals in a reserve role. Will Portlock poured in nine points and five rebounds and Connor Sears added six points and five rebounds.
A Dryden free throw followed by a jumper on Covenant's next possession broke a 62-62 tie and gave the Scots a 65-62 lead, one they would not relinquish, with 3:43 left in the contest. Up 68-65 with under two minutes left, Cox made a driving layup while being fouled and converted the conventional three-point play to give Covenant its largest lead at 71-65. Cox and Will Portlock combined to go 5-of-6 from the foul line in the final 30 seconds of play to seal the win.
The Scots also received significant contributions off the bench from Robby Bell, Ben Phelps and Bailey Spragg. Bell knocked down two 3-pointers in the second half and finished with six points, while Phelps and Spragg had seven and six points apiece.
Covenant shot 43.3 percent (26-of-60) from the field and made 18-of-22 free throws. Piedmont made 45.6 percent (26-of-57) but only connected on two 3-point attempts and went 11-of-19 from the foul line in the second half. Covenant outrebounded the Lions 40-33.
The first half saw both teams struggle to find the range. Covenant shot 34 percent, while Piedmont was just a few points better at 36 percent. The teams went into the break tied at 29 after Cox converted a three-point play with 39 seconds remaining in the half.
Piedmont (5-5, 0-2 USA South) had four players scored 12 points apiece in Chris Meeks, Kelly Assinesi, Trae Gaines and Chase England. England paced the Lions with nine rebounds, while Assinesi and Peyton Luken had three assists each.
Covenant will host USA South foe Huntingdon on Saturday at 4 p.m.
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