LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- Joanna Smith recorded a double-double of 17 points and 18 rebounds, but the Covenant women's basketball team could not overcome a sluggish first half in a 71-51 loss to Piedmont at home on Tuesday night.
The loss is the third straight for Covenant (5-8, 1-3 USA South), while Piedmont (12-2, 4-1 USA South) wins for the 11th time in its last 12 games.
Smith posted her fourth double-double of the year in impressive fashion as she went 7-of-10 from the floor for her 17 points, while also collecting six offensive rebounds. The junior added two assists and two steals on the night. Bekah Walter was the other Scot in double figure scoring as she totaled 15 points.
Even with Smith and Walter leading the way offensively, Covenant got into a hole at halftime. Piedmont raced out to a 39-15 lead at the break after shooting 45.7 percent from the field while holding the Scots to just 20.6 percent. Covenant went 0-of-14 from 3-point land in the first two quarters.
However, Covenant would put together a run in the third period to get back within striking distance. After Piedmont scored the first six points of the third to go ahead by 30, 45-15, the Scots went on a 17-2 scoring run over the next five minutes to cut the margin to 47-32. Smith had six points during the run and Walter added four. Piedmont extended the lead back to 20 momentarily, but back-to-back buckets from Smith sliced the Covenant deficit to 52-36 heading into the fourth.
Covenant continued the comeback in the early minutes of the final period as baskets from Jessica Bell and Smith made it 52-40 with 7:37 remaining. A 3-pointer from Emma Grimes trimmed the visiting Lions' lead to 54-43 with 6:39 left, but Amari Price's triple on Piedmont's ensuing possession brought the margin back to 14. The Scots got within 12 later in the period, but could not draw any closer.
Four players scored in double figures for Piedmont led by Price's 20 points and four assists. Carlie Shields had 17 points, 16 of which came in the first half, Dakota Sullens registered a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds and Jatasia Bailey added 10 points. Piedmont shot 45.3 percent (29-of-64) for the game with six 3-pointers and a 46-37 rebounding edge.
Grimes finished with eight points and four rebounds for Covenant, while Bell had seven points and four boards. The Scots shot much better in the second half, but connected on just 30.6 percent (19-of-62) on the night. The Scots turned 15 Piedmont turnovers into 20 points.
Covenant will play a pair of USA South road games this weekend beginning with a trip to Montgomery, Ala., on Friday to face Huntingdon. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. EST.
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