DEMOREST, Ga. -- The Covenant men's basketball team saw its eight-game win streak come to an end with a 76-69 loss at Piedmont on Saturday afternoon at Cave Arena in the regular season finale.
The loss for Covenant (16-9, 10-6 USA South) means the Scots will be the No. 3 seed from the West in next week's USA South Tournament and will travel back to Demorest to face Piedmont (15-10, 10-6 USA South). The two teams finished with identical conference records, but Piedmont will earn the No. 2 seed by virtue of taking both games against the Scots during the season.
Covenant suffered through a tough shooting day as the Scots connected on only 38.5 percent (25-of-65) from the floor, despite making 10 3-pointers. The foul line was also a difficult spot as Covenant made 9-of-19 free throws.
Even with the cold shooting, the Scots had opportunities to come away with the road win. Trailing 50-45 in the second half, Covenant rattled off a 10-0 scoring run to go ahead 55-50 with 11:54 remaining. Back-to-back baskets from Caleb Haynes and Berto Dryden followed by a 3-pointer from James Mitchell gave the Scots a 52-50 lead during the run. A Will Crumly three-point play capped the stretch giving the Scots their largest lead of the game.
Piedmont answered with an 8-0 run to regain the lead before Mitchell buried another 3-pointer to knot the score at 58 apiece with 9:59 left. Both teams struggled to score down the stretch, but the host Lions built a five-point lead, 65-60, with over six minutes left before a Haynes layup at the 3:06 mark sliced the Piedmont edge to 68-67. Elijah Alston responded with a 3-pointer on Piedmont's next possession to stretch the margin to four at 71-67 with 2:46 remaining.
A pair of Dryden free throws got Covenant within 71-69 with 1:10 to go, but Piedmont was able to hold the Scots scoreless the rest of the way and sealed the game at the free throw line.
Mitchell led Covenant with 15 points, on 5-of-11 from 3-point distance, while Bailey Spragg totaled 13 points, seven steals, and six rebounds. Crumly had 12 points and four boards off the bench and Dryden tallied 11 points. Haynes finished with eight points and nine boards.
Piedmont built a 43-36 lead at the half after shooting 59.4 percent in the period. Alston scored 14 of his game-high 21 points in the first 20 minutes.
The Lions finished the day connecting on 50 percent (28-of-56) from the field and 15-of-23 at the line. Alston scored 21 points off the bench, while Justin Vallejo had a double-double of 17 points and 14 rebounds. Marquise Lanier also recorded 17 points.
Covenant and Piedmont will face each other for a third time this year on Tuesday in Demorest, Ga., in the quarterfinal round of the USA South Tournament. Game time will be announced on Sunday.
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