LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- The 2018-19 Covenant men's basketball team featured a cohesive unit, guided by second-year head coach Neal Young, that stormed through the USA South en route to the program's first conference regular season title in 55 years.
Covenant set a program record for winning percentage with an 18-9 overall mark (.667) and went 16-2 in USA South to claim the West Division regular season title. The 16 wins set a conference record for a season.
Young, who was named the USA South Coach of the Year, led the Scots to an 11-0 start in conference play and had a seven-game win streak in the middle of the year. Sophomore forward Will Crumly had one of the best seasons for a Scot in the last decade as he was named USA South Player of the Year and was an NABC All-America selection. In an offense that averaged 76.0 points per game, senior guard Bailey Spragg led the USA South (and was fourth in the nation) in assists per game at 6.9.
Pull all that together and the 2018-19 season will go down as one of the best in Covenant men's basketball history.
GAME OF THE YEAR:
In a year filled with a myriad of big wins, it is hard to narrow down the best game. Covenant had key wins over Methodist and William Peace early in conference season and picked up close wins at Averett and Greensboro. The Scots held on for a thrilling win in against Huntingdon in the USA South Tournament first round.
However, it was a comeback win on the road that essentially sealed a conference regular season crown for the Scots.
Covenant traveled to LaGrange on Feb. 2 to face the Panthers for a second time in the season. LaGrange was on Covenant's heels in the West Division standings and the host Panthers went ahead by 16 at halftime, the largest deficit Covenant faced in any USA South game on the year.
But a special season for the Scots continued in the second half.
Covenant chipped away at the deficit in the second half. Down 55-41, Covenant went on a 16-5 run to cut the deficit to 60-57 after a Will Crumly 3-pointer with 11:54 left. The Scots tied the score at 67 apiece a few minutes later after a James Mitchell 3-pointer and a Bailey Spragg layup with 8:14 to go.
With the game tied at 76-76 late, it was Mitchell Hollis that ended up taking the big shot for the Scots. With possession and 38 seconds left, Hollis received a pass from Crumly in the corner and knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Scots a three-point lead. LaGrange had a shot at tying the game, but Travis Thompson's contested 3-pointer missed with two seconds left and a scramble for the rebound ended with the buzzer sounding.
Crumly had 32 points in the comeback win, while Hollis was 4-of-4 from deep and scored 12 points. Daevon Platt scored a career-high 16 points, with 14 of those coming in the second half. Spragg added nine points and seven assists.
The victory put Covenant at 13-1 in the USA South (14-7 overall) and in a three-game lead in the division with only four games left.
- Will Crumly became the first Covenant All-America selection since Josh Suddath in 2006. He also earned the program's first conference Player of the Year honor in the NCAA era, while also picking up all-region and all-district honors from D3hoops.com and the NABC.
- Crumly averaged 22.0 points per game, the most for a Covenant player in the NCAA era of the program. He had 10 double-doubles on the year, the most for a Scot in the NCAA era, and scored 30 or more points in a game four times. Crumly scored in double figures in 26 of Covenant's 27 games.
- Bailey Spragg became the 28th member of the 1,000 career point club at Covenant in a win over Brevard on Jan. 25. Spragg ended his career with 441 career assists, fifth-most in program history, to go along with 1,138 points.
- The senior class of Spragg and Nick Palmer leaves Covenant as the winningest four-year class in program history. The duo was a part of 68 wins in four seasons and a .624 winning percentage.
Covenant capped a big home weekend with a 78-74 victory over William Peace on Jan. 12, 2019.
Will Crumly - 3rd team
D3hoops.com All-South Region
Will Crumly - 1st team
NABC All-District South
Will Crumly - 1st team
USA South Player of the Year
USA South Coach of the Year
USA South All-Sportsmanship
USA South Player of the Week
Will Crumly - Jan. 7, Jan. 14
USA South Team Sportsmanship Award
Covenant (fourth straight year)
CONNECT WITH THE SCOTS
Be sure to follow the Scots all season long on athletics.covenant.edu and on social media at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for up-to-date scores, news and other information. To receive text alerts with score updates or e-newsletters, click here