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Men's Hoops Falls in USA South Tournament Title

Berto Dryden (Nina Grauley/Sports Information)
Berto Dryden (Nina Grauley/Sports Information)

MARYVILLE, Tenn. -- The Covenant men's basketball team fell behind by 16 early in the first half and was never able to recover as the Scots fell to Maryville, 96-77, in the USA South Tournament championship game on Saturday night inside Boydson Baird Gymnasium.

Covenant ends the year with an 18-10 overall record, tying the 2015-16 team for the best winning percentage in program history.

Maryville (22-6) started the game on a 21-5 run as the host, and No. 1 West seeded, Scots started 6-of-6 from the field. Covenant was able to get back into the game and cut the deficit to seven, 31-24, after a Will Crumly jumper with 8:56 left in the first. Covenant got within five on two occasions twice later in the half, including after a Berto Dryden steal and layup with a minute to go. 

Maryville went into the break with a 49-43 lead as Caleb Haynes made a putback as time expired in the period.

In the second half, Covenant quickly got the margin down to four at 51-47 on a Dryden layup with 17:53 left in the game. However, the Scots were held scoreless over the next four minutes as Maryville rebuilt a double-digit lead. 

Covenant cut the deficit under double digits just once the rest of the way, Maryville answered each Covenant basket on its way to claiming the tournament title.

Haynes and Dryden were named to the All-Tournament team for their performances during the tournament. Haynes led Covenant on Saturday with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Dryden had 13 points and five assists. Crumly came off the bench to score 14 points and Patjo Twagirayezu had 10 points and six rebounds. 

The game ended the collegiate careers of Dryden and Twagirayezu. The tandem, both transfers in their sophomore seasons, helped the program to 50 wins over the last three seasons and a USA South Tournament title in 2016 along with an NCAA Tournament appearance.

Covenant shot 49.2 percent (30-of-61) from the field with 12 3-pointers. Maryville made 55.6 percent (35-of-63) and 20-of-26 at the foul line.

Maryville was led by Dante Hoppa's 19 points and Hoppa was named the tournament's MVP. Emier Bowman added 18 points and Calvin Songster had 13 in the victory.

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