ATLANTA, Ga. -- The Covenant men's basketball team was on the brink of winning the 2017-18 season opener, but a buzzer-beating layup from Oglethorpe's Lane Foster sent the game into overtime and the host Stormy Petrels held on for a 79-78 victory over the Scots on Wednesday night.
Covenant (0-1) was up by three on two occasions in the final minute of play, including with 12 seconds left after a pair of James Mitchell free throws, but Oglethorpe rallied and Foster's layup as time expired tied the contest at 73.
In the overtime, both teams struggled to find the bottom of the net. A Berto Dryden 3-pointer gave Covenant a 76-75 lead early in the extra session before Connor Smith gave Oglethorpe a 78-76 lead with his 3-ball at the 2:05 mark. Two Bailey Spragg free throws knotted the score again at 78-78 with 1:25 remaining. Oglethorpe's Devin Huffman made 1-of-2 at the line with 22 seconds left giving the hosts a 79-78 lead, leaving Covenant with one last chance but Dryden's 3-point attempt was off the mark as time wound down.
Dryden led the Scots with 21 points to go along with five rebounds, four assists and four steals. Caleb Haynes added 12 points and seven rebounds, while Spragg had 12 points and four assists off the bench. Mitchell scored a career-high 11 points and collected five rebounds and four assists and Patjo Twagirayezu totaled eight points and seven rebounds.
Covenant struggled shooting connecting on just 38.9 percent (28-of-72) from the field, but did have 18 assists on those 28 made field goals. The Scots hit 10 3-pointers but were also just 12-of-19 from the free throw line.
The Scots led 40-37 at halftime after shooting 42.4 percent with eight 3-pointers in the opening half. Dryden had 11 of his 21 points in the period to lead the way. Dryden got the scoring going with a 3-pointer early and the Scots led 14-8 with 12:40 left in the half after a Mitchell Hollis trey. Covenant would match that six-point lead twice later in the half before Oglethorpe made a run and led 34-29 with just under four minutes left in the period.
Covenant would finish the first half on an 11-3 run as Dryden had six of those points and the stretch was capped by a Haynes basket that gave the Scots the 40-37 lead.
In the second half, Covenant would again lead by six early on before the teams traded leads throughout until the final minute of regulation.
Oglethorpe (1-0) was led by Smith's 18 points and Will Perry's 15. Perry also added eight rebounds, while Tom Inungu registered a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. The Stormy Petrels shot 40.8 percent (29-of-71) for the game and were just 15-of-26 at the free throw line. Oglethorpe held a 49-44 rebounding edge.
Covenant will have its home opener on Nov. 21 against Birmingham Southern. Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m. at Barnes PE Center.
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