LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- Caleb Haynes scored a career-high 28 points and Patjo Twagirayezu had 22 points and a monstrous dunk to lead the Covenant men's basketball team to an 89-85 victory over LaGrange on Thursday night inside Barnes PE Center.
The game was the USA South opener for both teams. Covenant (2-1, 1-0 USA South) has won two straight overall and the win was the fourth straight over LaGrange going back to the 2016 USA South Tournament championship.
Haynes was a perfect 13-of-13 from the field and tallied 23 of his 28 in the first half and added five rebounds and two blocks to his career night. Twagirayezu, coming off a career-high 32 points last week against Birmingham Southern, nearly recorded a double-double with 22 points and nine rebounds. Twagirayezu put down a thunderous dunk over a LaGrange defender in the second half that gave Covenant a 70-56 lead.
Covenant only hit seven 3-pointers on the night, but shot 55.2 percent (32-of-58) from the field in the win. The Scots tallied 16 assists on the night, with Berto Dryden leading the way with five.
The Scots built an early 10-4 lead as Haynes scored eight straight points during the run. Covenant later led by nine in the half before LaGrange sliced into the lead. The Panthers gained a 32-27 lead with 7:26 left in the half on a Michael McCauley jumper, but Haynes' play put the Scots back ahead. A Haynes layup, assisted by Dryden, in the final 10 second of the half gave the Scots a 44-43 edge into the break.
Covenant stepped up its play on the defensive side as the Panthers scored just 10 points through the first 11-plus minutes in the half. That enabled the Scots to build a sizable lead as Covenant outscored LaGrange 34-11 over a span of 12-plus minutes to take a 77-58 lead, its largest of the night. LaGrange would claw its way back, but the lead for Covenant was too great and the Scots made enough free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
LaGrange (2-3, 0-1 USA South) was led by Jamison McCray's 27 points. Alex Bonner, the reigning USA South Player of the Week, scored 22 points with three assists. LaGrange shot just 38.4 percent (28-of-73) from the field, but held a 40-34 rebounding edge. The Panthers also made 23-of-26 at the foul line.
Covenant hosts USA South newcomer Berea on Saturday at 4 p.m.
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