JACKSON, Miss. -- Zack Allen and Berto Dryden had 16 points apiece and the Covenant men's basketball team led for nearly the entire game in a 78-70 victory at Belhaven on Saturday evening inside Rugg Arena.
The win is the second straight for Covenant (6-5) and gets the Scots back over .500 on the year. Belhaven drops to 2-7 on the season. The meeting was just the second all-time between the programs, and the first since 1999 when Belhaven took a 76-67 win in Jackson.
Allen's 16 points is a career-high for the freshman as he connected on 6-of-14 from the field and also pulled down four rebounds. Dryden was clutch at the free throw line late in the contest and added five rebounds, five assists and four steals to his 16-point performance.
Z Arima scored in double figures for the seventh straight game with 11 points and six rebounds, while Patjo Twagirayezu added 12 points, five rebounds, two assists and two blocks. Caleb Haynes contributed eight points and eight rebounds off the bench. Bailey Spragg and Connor Sears added seven points each, with Spragg dishing out four assists.
After Belhaven scored the opening basket of the contest, Covenant would take over and take a double-digit lead for much of the first half. The Scots held a 25-11 margin at 7:49 left in the period after a pair of free throws from Spragg. The lead grew to 15 after a Dryden steal and layup made it 39-24 with 2:21 left and the Scots held a 39-28 edge heading into halftime.
Dryden scored nine points in the first 20 minutes and Covenant shot 51.7 percent from the field in the half to build its lead.
Covenant's lead grew even larger in the second half as the Scots went ahead 54-35 after Arima connected on 1-of-2 from the free throw line with 11:40 remaining. Belhaven would slowly chip away at its deficit and climbed to within 65-61 with 2:48 left, but a jumper from Twagirayezu and a layup from Allen on consecutive Covenant possessions pushed the lead back to eight at 69-61 with 1:44 left.
The Scots would make all eight of their free throws, including four from Dryden, in the final 45 seconds of the contest to ice the game.
Ron Davis had 15 points and four assists for Belhaven. Brandon Pressley and Dyron Anderson had 13 and 11 points, respectively. Belhaven shot 48.9 percent (22-of-45) from the field.
Covenant shot 45.6 percent (26-of-57) for the game and was 19-for-27 from the foul line. The Scots were efficient on Belhaven turnovers converting 31 points off 20 Blazer giveaways. Covenant also held a 36-31 rebounding edge.
Covenant will return to Barnes PE Center on Friday, Jan. 6 to face LaGrange in a key USA South matchup. Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m. The game is a rematch of the 2016 USA South Tournament championship, a game Covenant won 101-92 in overtime.
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