BEREA, Ky. -- Joanna Smith recorded a program single-game record with 23 rebounds, to go along with 16 points, but the Covenant women's basketball team could not hold a 15-point halftime lead in a 68-60 loss at Berea on Friday night.
The loss drops Covenant to 6-11 overall and 2-6 in the USA South. Berea, winners of nine straight, goes to 13-2 on the year and remains in a virtual tie for first in the USA South West Division with a 6-1 league record.
Smith's 23 boards broke the program's single-game record previously held by two players (Kristin Baker in 1985 and Jessie Blankenship in 2014). The junior totaled 16 defensive rebounds and seven on the offensive glass, while also collecting two steals and going 6-of-14 from the field. It is the second time this year that Smith has recorded at least 20 rebounds as she posted 21 in a win over Sewanee on Dec. 30.
Smith's play was vital to Covenant building a 33-18 lead at the half as she tallied eight points and 11 rebounds over the first two quarters. Covenant finished the first quarter on a 7-0 run, with all seven points coming from Kaley Hallmark, to go ahead 19-10 entering the second. The Scots extended the lead to 13, 26-13, after a 3-pointer from Emma Grimes with 6:43 left in the second. The lead grew as large 17 after a Smith basket made it 33-16 with 2:37 remaining before taking the 15-point edge into the break.
Berea regrouped in the third quarter and went on an 18-2 scoring run over the first four-plus minutes of the period to take a 36-35 lead. A Bekah Walter 3-pointer gave the Scots the lead back at 38-36, but it was short lived as Berea answered on its next possession that started a 13-0 run giving the host Mountaineers a 49-38 lead.
Covenant put together a rally in the fourth as the Scots got within four, 64-60, with 1:31 remaining after a Walter jumper. Two straight empty possessions for Berea left the door cracked for Covenant, but the Scots could not slice into the deficit further.
Taylor Robinson scored 15 points with four rebounds and two steals off the bench, while Hallmark ended with 13 points and five rebounds. Grimes had a team-best four assists to go with her six points. The Scots shot 33.3 percent (22-of-66) from the field and were 9-of-10 at the foul line. Covenant also held a 51-49 rebounding edge with 21 second-chance points.
Adriana Williams led Berea with 16 points and seven assists, while Kiley Barnard and Jaime Roberts had 14 points apiece. Bri Lanham registered a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. The Mountaineers, held to 17 percent shooting in the first half, ended the night connecting on 31.2 percent (24-of-77) from the floor.
Covenant returns to Lookout Mountain on Tuesday, Jan. 23 to face LaGrange. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.
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