ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. -- The No. 2 seeded Covenant men's basketball team used a hot shooting effort in the first half and maintained a double-digit lead for much of the second half before holding on for an 87-80 win over No. 7 seed William Peace in a USA South Tournament quarterfinal on Thursday.
Covenant (16-9) moves on to the tournament's semifinal round and will face No. 3 seed Greensboro on Friday at 5 p.m. at Everett Gym on the campus of North Carolina Wesleyan. Greensboro defeated the Scots 81-79 earlier this year on Jan. 29.
Berto Dryden registered his first career double-double with a career-high 22 points and 10 rebounds while dishing out three assists. Connor Sears added 15 points and nine rebounds and Patjo Twagirayezu chipped in 10 points and four boards. First team All-USA South member TJ Cox was held to eight points but tallied a game-high six assists.
Covenant shot 48.4 percent (15-of-31) from the field in the first half with eight 3-pointers to take a 45-38 lead into halftime. The Scots had to rally after William Peace went on a 10-0 run to take a 30-23 on a pair of Sam Johnson free throws with 7:43 left.
Using the 3-point shot, Covenant went on to outscore the Pacers 22-8 over the final seven-and-a-half minutes of the period. A Twagirayezu 3-pointer broke a 38-38 tie with 1:34 left in the half and a Daniel Garrett layup capped a quick 7-0 run to give the Scots the seven-point lead entering the second half.
Covenant cooled from the field in the second half, but still managed to extend the lead to double digits and hold on to a two-possession edge the rest of the way. A Sears layup with 14:13 left in the second half gave Covenant a 60-47 lead, its largest of the game, and capped a 7-0 scoring run. The Scots led by 12 at 72-60 after a pair of Will Portlock free throws with 6:27 remaining before the Pacers made one last push.
William Peace (11-15) cut the Scots' lead to five with under a minute to go, but Covenant made its free throws down the stretch to secure the win. In the second half alone, Covenant made 21-of-24 from the foul line.
For the game, Covenant made 39.7 percent (25-of-63) from the floor with nine 3-pointers and a 28-of-35 effort from the free throw line. The Scots held a 49-38 rebounding edge, with 15 offensive boards.
Covenant also received solid contributions from reserve players Z Arima (nine points and five rebounds) and Garrett (six points and six rebounds).
William Peace was led by Christ Thomas' 18 points, while Terry Rogers added 16 points off the bench. USA South Rookie of the Year Dakota King poured in 14 points and Sam Johnson tallied 11 in the defeat. The Pacers made just 36.1 percent (22-of-61) overall and were 29-of-40 from the foul line.