LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- Will Crumly posted 20 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks to lead the way as the Covenant men's basketball team defeated Birmingham Southern, 88-72, on Wednesday night inside a packed Barnes PE Center.
Birmingham Southern (2-3) made the first bucket of the game 33 seconds into the contest before a Crumly conventional 3-point play sparked a 10-point run capped off by a pair of Barnette free throws to give the Scots the lead for good.
Covenant (3-0) then slowly stretched their lead to 11 off a Barnette 3-pointer with 14:24 left in the opening half. The teams then traded buckets until the Panthers trimmed the lead to seven on a pair of Christian Stewart free throws with 7:25 remaining.
The Scots stretched the lead to 17, their largest lead of the half off a Hollis basket with 3:05 on the clock. Stewart hit a free throw with 1:16 left and Covenant went into the locker room up 48-32 at the half.
The Scots were in control the entire second half never seeing their lead drop below 12. Calvin Bak hit a 3-pointer just 1:45 into the second period to get the Panthers as close as they would get before Covenant answered with a 9-2 run to take a 59-40 lead with 14:39 left in the game.
Covenant then went on a four-point spurt to grab a 22 point lead, their largest of the night, on a pair of Crumly free throws with 2:23 remaining. The teams then slowly began to empty their benches as the Scots came away with an 88-72 victory.
It is the first time Covenant has started a season off 3-0 since the 2015-16 season.
The tough Covenant defense forced 21 turnovers and outscored the Panthers 27-15 in points off turnovers. The Scots also had found their way to the bucket as they posted 34 points in the paint compared to Birmingham Southern's 22. Covenant also took advantage of their 14 offensive rebounds with 16 second-chance points. The Panthers only posted six on eight offensive boards.
The Scots won the battle on the glass outrebounded their opponents 35-28.
Covenant shot 46.9 percent (30-for-64) overall and 13-for-34 (38.2 percent) from behind the 3-point line. The Scots went a calm 15-for-20 (75 percent) from the free-throw line.
Birmingham Southern shot a hot 49 percent (24-for-49) from the floor and an even better 54.5 percent (12-for-22) from 3-point range. The Panthers shot 12-for-20 (60 percent) from the charity stripe.
The Panthers were paced by Bak with 15 points and Evan Sigler was the only other player with double-digits as he posted 11. Ben Spence led the team with five rebounds.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT
The Scots travel to Danville, Ky., to take on Centre on Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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