LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- A historic season came to an end for the Covenant men's basketball team on Friday night as No. 2 East seed Methodist upset the No. 1 West seeded Scots, 61-56, in a USA South Tournament semifinal inside Barnes PE Center.
Covenant ends the year with an 18-9 record, setting a program record for winning percentage at .667. The loss ended the careers of seniors Bailey Spragg and Nick Palmer as the tandem becomes the winningest four-year class in program history with a winning percentage of .623 (68 wins).
Covenant trailed for much of the game and was down by 11 (55-44) with 4:03 remaining in the contest. In front of a packed Barnes PE Center, the Scots would not go away quietly.
James Mitchell hit a contested 3-pointer to start an 8-0 run, capped by another Mitchell triple, to cut the deficit to 55-52 with 1:25 left. Covenant had a chance to tie on its ensuing possession, but a missed 3-pointer and two Methodist free throws on the other end expanded the gap to 57-52 with 43 seconds remaining.
Spragg kept the Scots close with a driving layup to make it 58-54 with 22 ticks left, but Methodist would hit free throws down the stretch to secure the win.
Methodist (15-12) advances to the USA South Tournament championship game and will face No. 2 West seed Maryville. The championship is set for 3 p.m. on Saturday on Lookout Mountain.
Spragg led Covenant with his double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds to go along with four assists. Spragg ends his career with 441 assists, fifth-most in program history. Mitchell and Will Crunly each had nine points, while Noah Oetjen and Mitchell Hollis had seven apiece.
It was a tough shooting night for Covenant as the Scots made only 38.8 percent (19-of-49) from the field with six 3-pointers. Covenant held a 34-33 edge in rebounds.
Methodist received 17 points, six assists, and five rebounds from Dante Burden. Kaymon Mitchell added 16 points and eight rebounds for the visiting Monarchs, who shot 35.2 percent (19-of-54) from the floor but went 20-of-27 at the foul line.
Methodist was able to convert on Covenant's turnovers as the Monarchs scored 27 points off 25 Scots giveaways. Covenant forced Methodist into 16 turnovers, but managed three points off those additional possessions.
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