BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Will Crumly registered his first career double-double with a career-high 26 points and Bailey Spragg added 23 points, but the Covenant men's basketball team could not hold a double-digit lead as host Birmingham Southern rallied to grab a 103-98 overtime victory over the Scots on Saturday evening.
It is the second consecutive year that Covenant (0-1) has opened the season with an overtime loss on the road.
Crumly scored a career-high 26 points on 9-of-16 shooting and a perfect 6-for-6 at the free throw line to go along with a career-best 11 rebounds. Spragg tallied 23 points and also dished out a team-best seven assists to go with seven rebounds. James Mitchell was the third Covenant player with 20-plus points as he totaled 21 with five 3-pointers.
The Scots led by 16 in the first half as a Crumly offensive rebound and putback capped a 16-2 Covenant run to make it 36-20 with 5:29 left in the half. Covenant would lead 46-33 at the break after shooting 51.6 percent (16-of-31) in the opening half. Spragg had 14 of his points in the opening 20 minutes.
In the second half, Covenant maintained a double-digit lead through the first eight minutes. A Jared Jauch driving layup gave the Scots a 64-50 lead with 12:05 remaining, but from there the lead trickled away for Covenant.
Birmingham Southern (1-0) chipped away at the margin and eventually took an 80-79 lead on a Calvin Bak 3-pointer with just over a minute left in the second half. After an empty Covenant possession, the Scots were forced to foul but the host Panthers could make just 1-of-2 at the line to make it 81-79 with 28 seconds left.
Covenant answered quickly as Jauch converted a layup to knot the score at 81 apiece with seven seconds remaining. Covenant would force a turnover on Birmingham Southern's last possession as a Crumly steal sent the game to overtime.
The teams traded blows in the first four minutes of the overtime session. The Panthers took the lead for good with 38 seconds left after Christian Stewart tipped in an offensive rebound to give the hosts a 97-95 lead. In the final 10 seconds, Covenant trailed by three but Mitchell missed on his 3-point attempt and the Panthers collected the rebound before sealing the game at the free throw line.
Jauch had nine points and four assists for the Scots, while Ryan Gilbert had seven points. Covenant shot 47.4 percent (36-of-76) from the field with 10 3-pointers and a 16-for-22 effort at the free throw line.
Birmingham Southern had five players in double figure scoring led by Troy Stephens' 19 points. Zachary Allison had 17 points, nine assists, and five rebounds while Ben Spence (16 points, 11 rebounds) and Stewart (12 points and 11 rebounds) each had double-doubles. Bak added 15 points as the Panthers shot 45.8 percent (33-of-72) from the floor and 26-of-34 at the foul line.
Covenant will open its home schedule on Tuesday against Centre. Game time is set for 7 p.m. at Barnes PE Center.
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