LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- For the first time all season the Covenant men's basketball team suffered a loss inside Barnes PE Center as visiting Averett pulled away late in the second half for a 57-45 win on Saturday afternoon.
Despite the loss, Covenant (14-9, 11-5 USA South) clinched an outright USA South West Division regular season title after Huntingdon lost to William Peace earlier in the day. It is the second straight season that the Scots have claimed a conference regular season championship.
Before the game, Covenant honored its senior class of Mitchell Hollis, Jared Jauch, James Mitchell, and William Bryan. The group has been a part of 64 wins, fifth most for a senior class, and now two USA South regular season titles.
Covenant looked good for most of the first half against the USA South East Division leader Averett. Will Crumly had 11 first half points and his dunk, off a feed from Chris Barnette, gave the Scots a 23-13 lead at the 7:05 mark of the first half. That dunk capped a 13-4 run for the Scots that saw Barnette hit a pair of 3-pointers.
Averett, the USA South leader in scoring defense, shored up its defense over the final seven minutes of the first half and outscored the Scots 15-1 during the stretch to take a 28-24 lead into the break.
The top two teams in the conference battled over the final 20 minutes. Covenant grabbed a 38-37 lead after a Crumly 3-pointer with 13 minutes left in the game, but Averett's Isaiah Jones answered with a triple of his own to give the lead back to the visiting Cougars at 40-38 with 12:20 remaining.
Averett held a 42-38 lead with just under 12 minutes left and neither team scored for over four minutes until Daevon Platt knocked down a 3-pointer for Covenant to draw the Scots within one (41-41) with 7:22 left.
The teams traded baskets and a Barnette jumper sliced the Scots' deficit to 46-44 with 4:42 left. Averett had the final run, though, as Jones drilled a 3-pointer on the Cougars' next possession and the Scots managed just one point the rest of the way.
Crumly finished with a double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds, while Platt and Barnette had nine points each. Jauch and Barnette each had three assists. Covenant shot 34.8 percent (16-of-46) from the field with seven 3-pointers.
Averett (17-6, 13-2 USA South) extended its winning streak to 11 and clinched the USA South East Division title with the win. Jones had 13 points and seven rebounds to lead the Cougars and Timothy Henry and Montre' Cash had 10 points apiece.
Covenant travels to Berea for a USA South contest on Tuesday. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.
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