LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- Improvement was the key for the Covenant women's basketball team in 2015-16. Under the guidance of third-year head coach Sarah Harris, the Scots continued to improve as they finished with a 10-15 record overall and a 6-10 USA South record, narrowly missing the conference tournament.
With zero seniors on the team, Covenant relied on the play of freshman Joanna Smith and junior Aleigha Williams to lead the team. Smith was named USA South Rookie of the Year after putting up big numbers in her rookie campaign.
GAME OF THE YEAR: Covenant 69, Berry 62 - Nov. 13, 2015
The Scots had some exciting finishes and games throughout the year, including a triple-overtime victory at William Peace, but those games did not compare to the season opener against Berry in November.
Inside a rowdy Barnes PE Center, Covenant outscored Berry 21-11 in the second quarter. The Scots started the period scoring the first six points, capped by consecutive baskets from Walter, to go ahead 22-17. The Scots extended their lead to 30-22 after a Kaley Hallmark jumper with 4:01 left. Covenant led by as many as 10 in the period and settled for a 37-28 halftime lead.
The Scots took their largest lead of the game at 49-36 after a Jessica Bell free throw with 2:25 left in the third quarter. Berry managed to trim the deficit to 51-46 by the end of the period. In the fourth, Covenant led 62-60 after an Emma Cook 3-pointer, but a Walter conventional three-point play brought the lead back to five and the Scots never looked back.
The new-look Scots held Berry to just 29.2 percent (21-of-72) shooting and forced 26 turnovers in the process. Williams had 14 points and five rebounds, while Bekah Walter's 14-point effort came in a reserve role. Smith tallied seven points and a team-high 10 rebounds, while Hallmark added 12 points and five rebounds.
Smith and Williams carried the team throughout the year. Smith, a freshman from Chattanooga, Tenn., led the Scots with 12.1 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game this season. Her rebounding average was second in the conference. She registered nine double-doubles on the year and grabbed at least 10 rebounds in 10 contests while scoring double digits 16 times. Smith earned USA South Rookie of the Week honors six times on the year. In addition to being named Rookie of the Year, Smith earned a spot on the All-Conference honorable mention team.
Williams was second on the team in scoring at 11.8 points per game to go along with 4.9 rebounds. The junior scored a career-high 28 points against Greensboro (Jan. 29) and had 17 games with at least 10 points.
Covenant also received significant contributions from juniors Rachel Price and Alex Quimby, sophomores Clara Dirkse and Jessica Bell along with freshmen Kaley Hallmark, Bekah Walter and Kate Patrick. Price averaged 5.7 points and 7.6 rebounds per game and was Covenant's representative on the USA South All-Sportsmanship team, while Hallmark scored 7.7 points per game with 4.3 rebounds. Walter played in all 25 games and scored 6.7 points and shot 40 percent from the field, while Patrick came on later in the year and scored a season-high 17 points in a win over Wesleyan (Feb. 17).
USA South Rookie of the Year
USA South All-Conference
Joanna Smith - honorable mention
USA South All-Sportsmanship
USA South Rookie of the Week
Joanna Smith (six times)
USA South Play of the Month
Joanna Smith - November
Aleigha Williams - February
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