LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- In a battle between two teams vying to stay at the top of the USA South standings, Friday night's matchup between the Covenant men's basketball team and Greensboro lived up to its top billing.
Covenant raced out to an early 10-0 lead, but Greensboro eventually outlasted the Scots and took an 81-79 USA South victory inside a packed Barnes PE Center.
The loss snaps a five-game win streak for Covenant (10-7, 5-2 USA South), while Greensboro (11-7, 5-2 USA South) has won two straight. The teams are among five USA South teams with two conference losses at the top of the league's standings after Friday's contests.
TJ Cox scored a team-high 15 points to go along with five assists and three rebounds to lead the Scots. Berto Dryden and Connor Sears had 12 points apiece, while Robby Bell and Z Arima added 11 points each. Patjo Twagirayezu grabbed six rebounds and tallied seven points in the loss.
Covenant used the raucous home-court crowd to its advantage early on. The Scots made their first four shots and took a 10-0 lead just three-and-a-half minutes into the game after a Connor Sears offensive rebound and putback. Covenant took its largest lead of the game at 12 after Sears drained a 3-pointer to make it 32-20 with 7:01 remaining in the half.
Greensboro closed the half on a 19-8 scoring run to cut the Covenant lead to a single point at 40-39 entering halftime.
The teams went back-and-forth in the second half, but an 11-2 run over a two minute stretch midway through the period gave the Pride a lead they would not relinquish at 69-60. Greensboro missed 13 free throws in the contest and that kept Covenant in the game late as the Scots came within three at 79-76 with 20 seconds left. The Pride collected an offensive rebound off a missed free throw with 17 seconds left to seal the victory.
Parris Scales led all players with 18 points to go with eight rebounds for Greensboro. Joseph Gatling and Lorenzo Marry had 13 points each, while Marry had a double-double with 11 rebounds. Donavan Griffith added 12 points off the bench.
Covenant shot 40.3 percent (29-of-72) from the field and 13-of-16 from the free throw line. Greensboro made an even 50 percent (28-of-56) and outrebounded the Scots 38-34.
Covenant hosts Methodist on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Barnes PE Center.
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