LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- The Covenant women's basketball team led for nearly 38 minutes of Friday night's USA South contest against Averett, but the visiting Cougars rallied late to earn a 70-67 victory inside Barnes PE Center.
Covenant (7-11, 4-6 USA South) was led by Joanna Smith's double-double of 18 points and 14 rebounds to go with four steals. Aleigha Williams added 14 points and five rebounds, while Bekah Walter produced 12 points and three boards.
The Scots jumped on Averett in the early going and led 10-4 after a Williams jumper with 6:26 left in the first period. Covenant took an 18-12 lead into the second quarter and saw that lead expand.
In the second, Covenant went on an 8-0 run, capped by a Smith offensive rebound and layup, to take a 26-14 lead with 5:48 remaining before halftime. The Scots took their largest lead of the contest at 34-16 with 2:33 left on another Williams jumper. Covenant led 38-24 at the half as both Williams and Smith poured in 10 points.
Averett turned up the defensive pressure in the third period and began to chip away at the Covenant lead. The Cougars got within six at 51-45 late in the period, but a Williams basket in the final 30 seconds of the quarter put Covenant back up by eight at 53-45.
Leading 57-55 with under four minutes left in the fourth, Kaley Hallmark converted a conventional three-point play to give Covenant a two possession lead again at 60-55 with 3:19 left. Averett took its first lead with 1:47 left on a Frida Lundquist layup, but Walter answered with a jumper of her own to give the Scots a one-point lead with 1:31 remaining.
Averett's Joelle Deese buried a 3-pointer with 44 seconds left in regulation giving the Cougars a 66-65 lead. After a Covenant miss, Averett made two free throws before Hallmark made a layup to cut the deficit to 68-67 with 10 seconds left. Two more Averett free throws made it 70-67 with just under seven ticks left and Williams' 3-point attempt was blocked as time expired.
Hallmark added seven points, five rebounds and four assists for the Scots. Covenant shot 43.8 percent (28-of-64) and outrebounded the Cougars 49-33, but turnovers hurt as Averett tallied 30 points off 31 turnovers.
Jessica Myers led all scorers with 21 points for Averett (11-8, 6-5 USA South). Myers also collected eight steals. Lundquist had 11 points, while Ariana Covington and Oneka Jones had 10 points apiece. The Cougars shot just 38.4 percent (28-of-73) from the field.
Covenant will host Ferrum on Saturday. Tip-off in Barnes PE Center is set for 3 p.m.
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