DANVILLE, Va. -- Chris Barnette scored a career-high 31 points, but the Covenant men's basketball team saw its late rally fall short in a 76-71 loss to Methodist in the USA South Tournament semifinals on Friday evening inside the Grant Center.
Covenant ends the year 15-12 overall, marking a program record fifth straight winning season. Methodist (17-10) advances to the USA South Tournament title game on Saturday against the winner of Huntingdon and Averett.
Barnette scored 22 of his game-high 31 points in the first half as Covenant took a 38-34 lead into the break. Barnette finished the game shooting 12-of-15 from the field, including five 3-pointers, with five rebounds. Will Crumly added 11 points and six boards, while Daevon Platt came off the bench to score 11 points.
Barnette's scoring in the first half was key for the Scots in building an early lead. His jumper with 13:50 left in the opening half gave the Scots a 20-9 lead, their largest lead of the game. Methodist answered with a 15-4 run over the next three-plus minutes, but the Scots held a four-point lead at halftime after a Crumly jumper with 27 seconds left.
Covenant stretched the lead back to seven on a James Mitchell 3-pointer early in the second half, but Methodist used a 9-1 run to take a 43-42 lead with 13:43 remaining. The Monarchs went ahead by 10 (58-48) with 6:22 left, but the Scots had one more run in them.
A Platt conventional three-point play followed by another Mitchell 3-pointer brought Covenant within 60-58 with 3:55 remaining. After Methodist stretched the margin back to eight (72-64) with 37 seconds left, Covenant got within 72-68 after a long Platt jumper.
Methodist hit two free throws to make it 74-68 and Barnette followed with a 3-pointer plus the foul with five seconds left. Barnette intentionally missed the free throw for an offensive rebound chance, but Crumly's back-tap on the rebound towards the backcourt was corralled by Methodist to seal the game.
It was the second straight year that Methodist has ousted the Scots from the USA South Tournament in the semifinal round.
Dante Burden had 27 points and seven rebounds with five assists for the Monarchs, while Kaymon Mitchell had 23 points and five rebounds. Methodist hit 52.8 percent (28-of-53) from the field and was a perfect 13-of-13 at the foul line.
Covenant finished the night connecting on 53.8 percent (28-of-52) with eight 3-pointers. Mitchell hit two of those 3-pointers and finished with six points. Mitchell ends his career with 273 career made 3-pointers, second-most in program history.
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