LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- In a rematch of last year's USA South Tournament championship, the Covenant men's basketball team rallied to force overtime and then powered past visiting LaGrange in the extra session for a 93-82 USA South victory on Friday evening at Barnes PE Center.
Covenant has won each of the last three overtime games with LaGrange, including last year's conference tournament championship game.
The Scots (7-5, 1-1 USA South) trailed by seven with just under three minutes left in regulation before rallying back. Patjo Twagirayezu scored three of his 23 points on a 3-pointer with 2:40 remaining to draw Covenant to within four at 71-67. After a defensive stop, Z Arima made a driving layup to cut the deficit to two and Twagirayezu tied it on the ensuing possession with a layup of his own with 1:43 left.
Free throw shooting came into play over the next few possessions as the teams traded fouls, but both teams connected on all attempts. Two free throws from Bailey Spragg, after Arima blocked a jumper by LaGrange's Justyn Olson, gave Covenant a 77-75 lead with 19 seconds left. But LaGrange would respond as Olson drove the lane and dished to Drew Vanderbrook who made the layup to knot the score at 77 with four seconds left.
Neither team got off a shot in the final seconds to send the game into overtime.
In the overtime, it was all Covenant. Caleb Haynes scored seven of his career-high 16 points in the overtime session and the Scots scored the first nine points overall to build an 86-77 lead with 1:54 left. Covenant made 8-of-9 at the foul line in overtime to seal the win.
Berto Dryden and Twagirayezu each had 23 points to lead Covenant. Dryden's 23 is a career-high as he was an impressive 12-of-12 at the free throw line and also dished out a career-high tying seven assists. Twagirayezu added six rebounds and three steals to his 23-point effort.
Z Arima scored in double figures for the eighth straight game as he had 15 points, four steals and the one crucial block in the final seconds of regulation. Haynes, the reigning USA South Rookie of the Week, had five rebounds and three assists with his 16 points. Spragg narrowly missed a double-double with eight points, nine rebounds, three assists and five steals.
Covenant shot a season-best 56.4 percent (31-of-55) from the field and finished 28-of-36 at the foul line. The Scots had 17 assists on those 31 made field goals.
Olson was held to just four points late into the second half before emerging late to finish with 15 points and five assists for LaGrange (7-6, 0-2 USA South). Vanderbrook had 16 points to lead the Panthers. Alex Bonner added 14 points and Jamison McCray 13 in the loss, LaGrange's fourth straight. The Panthers finished shooting 48.6 percent (35-of-72) for the game.
Covenant hosts USA South foe Huntingdon on Saturday at 4 p.m. inside Barnes PE Center.
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