DEMOREST, Ga. -- On a night where both teams struggled shooting from the field, the Covenant men's basketball team rallied late but ultimately fell to host Piedmont 59-56 in USA South action inside Cave Arena on Wednesday night.
The teams both shot just over 30 percent from the field, but it was a key 3-pointer from Piedmont's Peyton Luken that gave the Lions a 55-52 lead with over a minute to go that proved to be too much for Covenant to overcome. The Scots had one last chance to tie the game in the final six seconds, but a 3-pointer from Bailey Spragg was off the mark as time expired.
Spragg led the Scots with a career-high 19 points to go along with four rebounds and two steals. Patjo Twagirayezu added 16 points and seven rebounds, while Caleb Haynes grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds and scored eight points. Berto Dryden had three assists, five rebounds and six points in the loss.
Covenant (7-9, 1-5 USA South) trailed 49-44 with six-and-a-half minutes left in the second half before going on an 8-0 run to take a 52-49 lead. Spragg drained a 3-pointer to tie the score with 4:37 remaining, and Haynes gave the Scots the lead with a three-point play with 3:15 to go. Piedmont tied the score over the next minute and then Luken's 3 gave the Lions the lead for good with 1:23 left.
After Piedmont free throws brought its lead to 57-53 with under 15 seconds left, Spragg hit another 3-pointer to draw Covenant to within 57-56 with seven seconds remaining. Piedmont's Kelly Assinesi made two free throws on the ensuing possession and Covenant would have one more look, but Spragg's attempt missed at the buzzer.
Covenant shot slightly better than Piedmont at 33.3 percent (19-of-57), however the Scots did connect on 40 percent (8-of-20) from 3-point land. Covenant finished 10-of-13 at the foul line.
In the first half, Covenant built a six-point lead and led 30-25 at the break. The Scots shot 40 percent (10-of-25) from the field in the period. Twagirayezu had nine of his 16 points in the opening 20 minutes to lead Covenant.
Justin Vallejo led Piedmont (9-7, 4-2 USA South) recorded a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Trae Gaines added 14 points, while Assinesi and Chase England had 11 and 10 points, respectively. The Lions made 32.7 (17-of-52) from the field and 5-of-19 from deep, but shot 76.9 percent (20-of-26) from the free throw line.
Covenant will travel to face LaGrange in a USA South matchup on Saturday. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. The Scots defeated LaGrange 93-82 in overtime on Jan. 6.
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