LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- It wasn't as pretty as the first three games during the Covenant men's basketball team's current win streak, but the Scots pulled out a 62-52 victory over Piedmont on Wednesday night to remain undefeated in USA South play and extend their win streak to four.
Covenant (4-3, 4-0 USA South) remains atop the USA South West Division standings with the victory, and will remain there through the New Year as the Scots closed out conference play before Christmas Break. It is the first time on record that a Covenant team has begun a season 4-0 in conference action.
Unlike the first three games of the current four-game winning streak, the Scots had to rely on defensive stops and key baskets. Covenant shot just 36.4 percent (20-of-55) from the field and only 15-of-29 from the free throw line. However, Covenant made seven 3-pointers and converted 16 Piedmont turnovers into 15 points to hold on for the win.
Will Crumly led the Scots with 15 points to go with six rebounds and a key block in the final minute of the second half. Mitchell Hollis had 13 points and seven rebounds, while Bailey Spragg flirted with a triple-double as he finished with seven points, a career-high 14 rebounds, and six assists. William Bryan added nine points, and James Mitchell and Noah Oetjen had eight apiece.
Covenant never trailed in the game and took a double-digit lead in the first half. The Scots went ahead 7-0 in the first three minutes as a Bryan layup gave Covenant a seven-point lead with 17:17 left in the half. The lead stretched to 14 after a Mitchell 3-pointer at the 6:52 mark of the half gave the Scots a 27-13 edge.
Covenant went cold from the field over the final six minutes of the first half and Piedmont was able to slice the lead to just four, 35-31, at halftime.
Piedmont got within three early in the second half, but back-to-back 3-pointers by Crumly extended the lead back to nine at 45-36 with 14:28 remaining. A Hollis triple with 8:50 to go gave the Scots a 52-44 lead, but that would be Covenant's final made field goal of the night.
Both teams struggled to score down the stretch. Covenant held a 55-49 lead with 2:05 remaining, but strong defense from the Scots was key in the final minutes. A Crumly block at the 1:00 minute mark negated a Piedmont opportunity to draw within four and Covenant was able to make 7-of-8 free throws in the final minute to seal the win.
Miles Riley and Marquise Lanier led Piedmont (0-7, 0-3 USA South) with nine points each, while Lanier added eight rebounds. Taylor Mills chipped in eight points and Justin Quick seven. The visiting Lions shot 33.3 percent (20-of-60) from the floor with just two made 3-pointers.
Covenant held a 46-38 rebounding edge and used 11 offensive boards to score 11 second-chance points.
Covenant will break for final exams before taking the hardwood again on Saturday, Dec. 15 at home against Oglethorpe. Tip-off inside Barnes PE Center is set for 3 p.m.
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