MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- The win streak and the season continues for the Covenant women's basketball team. Backed by 17 points and 15 rebounds from Joanna Smith, the Scots defeated No. 4 West seed Huntingdon, 63-53, on Wednesday night in a USA South Tournament first round contest inside Roland Arena.
The victory sends No. 5 West seed Covenant (14-11) to the quarterfinals of the USA South Tournament and a date with No. 1 West seed Berea on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Kentucky. It also gave the Scots their eighth straight victory, tying a program record for longest win streak, in the process.
After falling twice to Huntingdon by a combined five points during the regular season, Covenant used a strong fourth quarter to finally get over the hump. The teams were tied at 47-47 entering the fourth quarter, thanks to an 8-0 Huntingdon run to end the third period, but the Scots outscored the host Hawks 16-6 over the final 10 minutes to secure the win.
Covenant grabbed a 51-47 lead in the early minutes of the fourth after baskets from Smith and Bekah Walter, but Huntingdon tied the score on a Juliette Harp bucket with 4:25 remaining. The Scots had the final big run, however, going on a 12-2 spurt to end the game. Jessica Bell made a driving layup with 3:21 left to give Covenant a 53-51 lead and the Scots would not trail again. A Smith basket followed by a Kaley Hallmark 3-pointer with 40 seconds left stretched Covenant's lead to 61-53 and seal the win.
Besides Smith's 17 points and 15 rebounds, Covenant also received 16 points and six boards from Bell. Walter finished with nine points and Taylor Robinson had eight off the bench. Hallmark added seven points and Emma Grimes chipped in six points and five rebounds.
As with most games during Covenant's win streak, the Scots got off to a hot start in the first quarter. Covenant shot 66.7 percent (8-of-12) from the field and led 21-18 at the quarter break. The Scots took their largest lead of the first, 21-15, on a Robinson 3-pointer with 28 seconds left in the period.
Covenant cooled off from the field in the second, but still took a 35-33 lead into halftime. Bell had 12 of her 16 points in the opening two quarters.
In the third, the Scots built two eight-point leads but saw Huntingdon rally both times. The Scots led 47-39 with 3:05 left in the quarter after a Smith layup, but Covenant would be held scoreless for the remainder of the quarter and Huntingdon went on an 8-0 run to tie the game heading into the final period.
Harp led Huntingdon (16-10) with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Abiba Bernard had 11 points and TI Duncan added 10 points in the loss. The Hawks shot 33.9 percent (20-of-59) from the field, but were just 3-of-19 from 3-point land.
Covenant finished the night connecting on 42.9 percent (24-of-56) and out-rebounded the Hawks 40-39.
Covenant will travel to No. 1 West seed Berea on Saturday for a USA South Tournament quarterfinal. Game time is set for 2 p.m.
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