LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- Basketball season has hit Covenant. Under fifth-year head coach Sarah Harris, the women's basketball program begins the 2017-18 season at home against Sewanee on Wednesday, Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m. inside Barnes PE Center.
Covenant is coming off a season in which it earned a berth in the USA South Tournament and won the most games in the Harris coaching era. The Scots return three starters and 10 letterwinners overall from last season's squad.
Covenant boasts three returning starters who all averaged double-figure scoring a season ago. Junior Joanna Smith is the team's leading returning scorer after averaging 12.4 points per game to go along with a team-best 7.2 rebounds per contest last year. Smith was an All-USA South West Division second team honoree after also leading the conference in field goal percentage at 52.8 percent.
Senior Emma Grimes added a prolific 3-point threat to the Scots' arsenal in her first year with the program last season and finished averaging 10.3 points per game. Junior Kaley Hallmark also shot it well from 3-point territory, over 42 percent, last season and tallied 10.2 points and 2.3 assists per game.
Those three starters will be joined by key returning contributors in seniors Jessica Bell and Clara Dirkse Wolfe, along with juniors Bekah Walter and Grace Potter. Bell and Wolfe played in all 25 games a season ago and provide leadership on the team along with fellow senior Ellen Ortlip. Walter saw action in 18 games a season ago, while Potter had her best season as a Scot. Junior Morgan Douglass and sophomore Margo Koby also saw significant playing time last season and return.
Harris' recruiting class brought in four players and some much-needed depth in the frontcourt. Forwards Hannah Monday (5-foot-11) and Raquel Rosa (5-foot-10) look to help the inside presence for the Scots. Fellow freshmen Rachel Thomas and Kaylea McAllister add to the overall depth and could see immediate impacts on the court.
A new player that has been at Covenant and within the program the last two years is junior Taylor Robinson. The guard has battled injuries and has yet to see action in a game at Covenant, but hopes to help the Scots this season.
In a competitive USA South West Division, Covenant will have its chance to move up the ladder and fight for a USA South Tournament berth and home tournament game.
The Scots were picked to place sixth in the annual USA South preseason coaches' poll last month. But the Scots play nearly their entire home conference schedule in the month of January, including key dates with Huntingdon (Jan. 4), Piedmont (Jan. 9), Maryville (Jan. 16) and LaGrange (Jan. 23). All four of those teams finished above the Scots in the division last season.
The conference tournament format has changed slightly this season. The top six teams from each division will qualify for the tournament, but divisional seeds 3-4 will host first round games on Feb. 14 before traveling to division seeds 1-2 on Saturday, Feb. 17 for quarterfinal round games. The highest remaining seed hosts the final two rounds of the tournament on Feb. 23-24.
In non-conference play, regional power Emory comes to Lookout Mountain on Nov. 21, while Belhaven makes its first trip to Barnes PE Center since 2001 on Dec. 19.
CONNECT WITH THE SCOTS
Be sure to follow the Scots all season long on athletics.covenant.edu and on social media at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for up-to-date scores, news and other information. To receive text alerts with score updates or e-newsletters, click here