LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- Caleb Haynes scored a career-high 17 points and Will Portlock scored 14 points to lead the Covenant men's basketball team to its fifth straight win with a 67-63 victory over Averett on Saturday.
Covenant (13-10, 6-6 USA South) continues its climb up the USA South standings ladder with the win. The Scots currently sit in eighth all by themselves, but just two games back in the loss column for first in the tight league.
Haynes also grabbed nine rebounds while going 6-for-7 from the field. Portlock scored 10 of his 14 points in the first half and dished out a game-high five assists to go with three rebounds. Z Arima scored all 11 of his points in the first half and finished with seven rebounds. Zack Allen added eight points and Patjo Twagirayezu had seven points and four rebounds.
Covenant held a double-digit lead at halftime, but Averett quickly cut into that margin. The Cougars got within one point at 48-47 after James Contreras finished off a three-point play with 12:28 left. But the Scots answered with a key 11-1 run in the middle part of the half to gain a 64-50 after Portlock sank a jumper with 6:08 remaining.
Averett would slowly climb back into the contest. A driving layup from Contreras followed by a Jalen Burnett free throw made it 66-63 with 3:35 remaining. Missed shots and turnovers down the stretch hurt both teams as the score remained until nine seconds left when Twagirayezu hit 1-of-2 at the line to extend the Covenant lead to 67-63.
Covenant built a 39-28 lead at halftime after shooting 50 percent in the opening half. The Scots started the game on a 10-2 run as Portlock scored the first six and Arima capped the run with a jumper at the 15:00 minute mark.
Averett (9-14, 7-5 USA South) was led by Contreras' 16 points, four assists and eight rebounds. Charles Bryant added 15 points and nine rebounds, while Burnett had 13 points and five boards. The Cougars shot 40 percent (24-of-60) for the game, but were only 3-of-16 from behind the arc.
Covenant finished the game shooting 44.0 percent (22-of-50) with a 17-for-28 effort at the free throw line.
Covenant will travel to face Maryville on Wednesday in another key USA South clash. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.
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