LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- Needing a win to stay in contention for a USA South Tournament berth, the Covenant men's basketball team delivered one of its most complete performances of the year. The Scots shot a season-high 58.2 percent and routed Piedmont 91-64 in the regular season finale on Saturday afternoon inside a packed Barnes PE Center.
Covenant (14-11, 7-7 USA South) clinched a spot in the USA South Tournament with the win and North Carolina Wesleyan's loss to LaGrange earlier in the day. The Scots' seed remains to be determined, but Covenant will head to Danville, Va., and play a quarterfinal round game on Thursday.
Saturday also marked Senior Day as the program celebrated the careers of varsity players Ben Phelps, Z Arima, Connor Sears and Will Portlock. Three other seniors - Joe Womack, Bruno Komel and Tyde Coffey - were honored for their dedication and contributions to the program.
The opening half saw both teams trade baskets through the early going. A Portlock jumper with 11:56 left in the half gave Covenant a 22-16 lead and the Scots would never trail after that. Covenant shot 58.3 percent in the first half and took a 40-36 lead into halftime.
The first 10 minutes of the second were completely dominated by the Scots. Covenant outscored Piedmont 37-11 during that stretch to take a 77-47 lead with 9:40 remaining in the game. Patjo Twagirayezu was a major reason why Covenant broke the game wide open as he poured in 16 of his game-high 23 points in the second half, including four 3-pointers. Covenant shot another blistering 58.1 percent in the final stanza.
Twagirayezu finished with 23 points, five rebounds and two assists. Portlock continued his strong play with 17 points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals in the win. Caleb Haynes added 16 points and eight rebounds, while Bailey Spragg came off the bench to score 11 points with five rebounds and four assists.
Covenant finished at 58.2 percent (32-of-55) shooting from the field with nine 3-pointers and an 18-for-25 effort at the foul line. Covenant also held a 34-21 rebounding edge and turned the ball over just 10 times.
Piedmont (14-11, 8-6 USA South) was led by 12 points and four assists from Kelly Assinesi. Trae Gaines had 11, while Peyton Luken and Justin Vallejo had 10 apiece. The Lions shot 471. percent (24-of-51) from the field.
Covenant's seed and opening round opponent of the USA South Tournament will be finalized on Sunday. The USA South Tournament will be hosted by Averett University from Feb. 23-25.
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