LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- The Covenant men's basketball team could not hold on to a six-point halftime lead as visiting Ferrum outscored the Scots by 12 in the second half to claim a 67-61 victory on Saturday in USA South action.
For Covenant, the loss drops the Scots out of first place in the USA South. The Scots (12-8, 7-3 USA South) sit a game back of North Carolina Wesleyan for the top spot and are tied for second in the league with Greensboro. Ferrum (11-10, 6-4 USA South) has won four consecutive conference games.
Both teams struggled to score in the first half, but Covenant went into the break with a 25-19 lead. The Scots shot just 31 percent in the period, but limited Ferrum to only 18.5 percent. Covenant led by as many as 10 at 18-8 after a Z Arima 3-pointer with 6:02 left.
It was a different story in the second half as Ferrum caught fire from the field. The Panthers made 55.6 percent (15-of-27) from the field and used that to erase their deficit. Ferrum grabbed a 48-41 lead after a KeAndre' Robinson jumper with 10:03 remaining, but the Scots answered with a 7-0 run to knot the score at 48. All seven points came from Ben Phelps as he connected on a jumper followed by a deep 3-pointer and a driving layup with 8:29 left.
Covenant gained a 52-49 lead with 5:20 left on a Chris Boyd jumper but Ferrum responded with a quick 5-0 run to re-take the lead at 54-52. Trailing 62-59 with under a minute left, Covenant's Berto Dryden sank a jumper to cut the deficit to one. Dryden then came up with a steal on the ensuing inbounds pass, but could not convert a tough layup with 32 seconds left.
Ferrum then made 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch to seal the conference win.
TJ Cox led all players with 17 points to go along with five rebounds and two steals for Covenant. Phelps poured in 12 points, while Boyd had nine points and eight rebounds. Covenant shot 36.2 percent (25-of-69) from the floor, while Ferrum made 37 percent (20-of-54).
Ferrum's Josh Grimard led the Panthers with 14 points. Alek Ayer added 13 points, while Rashawn Speas just missed a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds. Robinson also narrowly missed a double-double with nine points and 12 rebounds.
Covenant travels to Piedmont on Wednesday for a USA South matchup. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.
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