LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- Berto Dryden led the Covenant men's basketball team with 19 points and came up with a crucial steal and layup in the final seconds to preserve a 74-70 season-opening victory over No. 15-ranked Emory on Tuesday night at Barnes PE Center.
The win gives Covenant (1-0) its first program win over Emory, after dropping the first seven games of the series, and also marks the first time the Scots have defeated a nationally-ranked team in the NCAA era.
The Scots led for much of the contest, but a double-digit lead all but dwindled away in the final minutes of the second half. Emory cut the lead to one at 71-70 with 17 seconds left, but Bailey Spragg extended that lead to 72-70 after making 1-of-2 at the free throw line. On the ensuing Emory possession, Dryden picked the pocket of Whit Rapp and took it the rest of the way for a layup with seven seconds left and a 74-70 lead.
Dryden had 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting to go with two rebounds and two steals. Will Portlock added 11 points, eight rebounds and a team-high four assists, while Patjo Twagirayezu had 10 points and eight rebounds before fouling out. Spragg contributed seven points and rebounds in the win.
In a rematch of last year's NCAA Tournament first round, the two teams started fast. Emory surged ahead 10-4 after an Adam Gigax 3-pointer with 15:51 left in the first half before Covenant came roaring back. The Scots would take the lead for good at 23-22 on a Dryden 3-pointer at the 6:11 mark. Covenant entered halftime with a 36-32 lead.
In the second half, the Scots' lead would grow to as many as 13 points at 67-54 after a couple of Portlock free throws with 3:48 remaining. Emory sliced into that lead by going on a 16-4 run to cut it to 71-70.
Emory (0-1) received a game-high 26 points from Adam Gigax and 25 points from Jim Gordon. Rapp dished out seven assists and had seven steals.
Covenant shot 44.4 percent (28-of-63) from the floor and 12-of-17 from the foul line. Emory was held to 38.6 percent (22-of-57) shooting and committed 22 turnovers, which Covenant turned into 25 points.
Covenant will host a full slate of games this weekend at Barnes PE Center. The Scots host University of Dallas on Friday at 7:30 p.m., after LaGrange takes on Emory & Henry at 5:30 p.m.
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