LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- The Covenant women's basketball team went 9-for-10 at the free throw line in the fourth quarter and used those to hold off Salem for an 82-78 USA South victory on Tuesday night.
Covenant (11-11, 5-7 USA South) has won three straight games and moves into fifth place in the USA South West Division. Salem dropped to 7-15 overall and 4-8 in the USA South.
Joanna Smith led four players in double figure scoring for the Scots with 17 points and 10 rebounds to go along with three steals. Rachel Price also notched a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds with three assists. Emma Grimes hit three 3-pointers and finished with 16 points and six rebounds, while Aleigha Williams had 11 points and seven boards. Kaley Hallmark added eight points, eight rebounds and four assists and Bekah Walter scored eight points off the bench.
Covenant held an eight-point lead entering the fourth quarter at 61-53, but Salem would begin chipping away at the lead in the final minutes. The visiting Spirits made it a four-point game at 77-73 with 28 seconds left. Covenant made 7-of-8 at the free throw line in the final 36 seconds, but Salem hung around by hitting 3-pointers. A Sabrina Shepherd 3-pointer cut the Scots' lead to 80-78 with six second left, but Smith calmly knocked down a pair of free throws on the ensuing possession to seal the win for Covenant.
The Scots shot 40.5 percent (30-of-74) from the field and held a 54-32 rebounding edge. Covenant also made 16-of-17 at the free throw line for the game and connected on six 3-pointers.
Covenant led 38-33 at the half after shooting 44.4 percent in the second quarter alone. The Scots stretched the lead out to eight by the end of the third quarter as Grimes capped the period with a layup giving Covenant a 61-53 lead. The Scots led by as many as 11 in the fourth before Salem put together its comeback attempt.
Salem was led by 22 points and seven rebounds from Shepherd. MiKayla Seivers had 18 points, seven assists and six rebounds and Shenell Pharr came off the bench to score 16 points. The Spirits made 38.7 percent (24-of-62) with nine 3-pointers and were 21-of-29 at the foul line.
Covenant travels to Demorest, Ga., on Friday to take on Piedmont in a USA South matchup. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.
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