LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- The Covenant men's basketball team battled back from a double-digit second half deficit, but N.C. Wesleyan's Robert Wilson hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 26 seconds left to lift the visiting Battling Bishops over the Scots, 80-77, on Saturday afternoon inside Barnes PE Center.
The loss snapped a seven-game win streak for Covenant (12-7, 11-1 USA South) and was also the first conference loss of the year for the Scots.
After leading by as much as 11 in the first half, Covenant found itself trailing N.C. Wesleyan (16-3, 9-2 USA South) by 11 with 7:05 remaining in the game. Trailing 73-64 with 4:43 left, the Scots mounted a comeback and went on a 13-2 run to grab a 77-75 lead after a James Mitchell steal and layup followed by a pair of Bailey Spragg free throws with 1:38 to go.
Spragg had six points during the run that gave Covenant its first lead since early in the second half.
N.C. Wesleyan tied the game at 77-77 on an AJ Frye offensive rebound and tip-in with 1:20 remaining. On the next Battling Bishops possession, the visitors took the lead for good when Wilson drained a triple from the corner with 26 seconds left.
Covenant had one last chance, but missed two 3-pointers in the final six seconds to come up short.
Will Crumly had a game-high 28 points, 17 of which came in the second half, to go with eight rebounds and two steals. Mitchell Hollis had 19 points, while Spragg contributed 14 points, seven assists, five rebounds, and three steals. As a team, the Scots shot 47 percent (31-of-66) from the field with nine 3-pointers and a 6-for-10 effort at the foul line. Covenant turned the ball over a season-low five times.
In the first half, Covenant trailed 4-0 before going on a 9-0 run, capped by a Mitchell 3-pointer, to go ahead 9-4. Another 9-0 run later in the half, highlighted by a Daevon Platt 3-pointer, gave the Scots a 20-10 edge with 11:34 left in the period. Covenant took its largest lead of the game at 11 (30-19) on a Hollis trey at the 7:52 mark.
However, N.C. Wesleyan responded with a 12-1 run to end the half and take a 38-35 lead into the break.
Wilson led the way for N.C. Wesleyan with his double-double of 23 points and 16 rebounds, while adding three assists. Justin Tankelewicz scored 15 points and Chris Braswell added 14 points and six assists. AJ Frye also had 12 points and eight rebounds. The Battling Bishops hit 53.2 percent (33-of-62) for the game with nine 3-pointers. N.C. Wesleyan also out-rebounded the Scots 43-26.
Covenant travels to Montgomery, Ala., to face Huntingdon on Friday, Feb. 1. Tip-off is set for 8:30 p.m. EST (7:30 p.m. CST).
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