LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- In a season filled with comeback wins, this one takes the cake.
The Covenant men's basketball team rallied from a 16-point deficit with eight minutes left in the second half to force overtime and Chris Barnette's 3-pointer with 3.3 seconds left lifted the Scots to an 83-81 win over Maryville in the USA South Tournament first round on Tuesday night inside Barnes PE Center.
Covenant (15-11) advances to the semifinals and will face No. 3 East seed Methodist on Friday at 5 p.m. at the Grant Center on the campus of Averett University.
Before Covenant could even think about advancing on in the tournament, the Scots had to dig themselves out of a big hole.
Maryville (9-17) led 56-40 with 8:31 left after a JR Sanders jumper. From that point on, Covenant outscored the visitors 28-12 to force overtime.
The spark behind that run? Senior Mitchell Hollis.
Hollis, who played only nine minutes in the game, came off the bench and hit 3-pointers on three straight possessions to trim the Covenant deficit to 58-49 with 6:30 remaining. Barnette then got a steal and converted a conventional three-point play to draw the Scots within 58-52 with 5:35 left.
Covenant came within two (62-60) after a pair of Will Crumly free throws with 3:11 left, but the Scots still trailed by three with under a minute to go. James Mitchell knotted the score at 68 with a 3-pointer with 26 seconds left. Maryville had a chance to win the game in regulation, but Joshua Brooks missed a jumper as time wound down.
In overtime, back-to-back baskets from Crumly gave the Scots a 72-71 lead with four minutes left. In a back-and-forth extra session, Maryville grabbed an 81-80 lead with Brooks' layup with 17 seconds left. After a Covenant timeout, the Scots found Barnette in the corner and he buried the 3-pointer with 3.3 seconds left. Maryville's heave from halfcourt was off the mark as the horn sounded.
It was the second time this month that Covenant and Maryville went to overtime at Barnes PE Center. On Feb. 5, Covenant rallied back from a 14-point second half deficit to win, 72-70, in overtime.
Crumly finished with 25 points and 13 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the year. Barnette had 11 points, while Mitchell and Daevon Platt had 12 points apiece. Promise Igbanu, who had a clutch basket in the second half run, added nine points and seven rebounds. Hollis also had nine points, all coming in the stretch in the second half that ignited the Scots.
Sanders had a game-high 27 points for Maryville, the second time he has dropped 27 against Covenant this year. Brice Martin added 21 points and Felix Uadiale had 16 rebounds and seven points.
The win marked the third time this season that Covenant has erased a double-digit second half deficit to win a game at home. The victory was also head coach Neal Young's 100th career coaching win.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NIGHT
Covenant will face No. 3 East seed Methodist on Friday at 5 p.m. in a USA South Tournament semifinal inside the Grant Center at Averett. The winner advances to the USA South Tournament championship game on Saturday at 6 p.m.
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