There is no doubt that the Covenant College community is exceedingly proud of our men’s basketball team. Covenant rejoiced on Saturday, February 27th when the Scots won the USA South Conference Championship and entered the NCAA Tournament. Lamentably, the team lost to Emory on March 4th, ending their journey during the first round of the NCAA Division III national tournament.
Despite the loss, the Scots made history this season. Not only was this the Scots’ first national tournament appearance since 1987, but this is the first title on record since the program began in 1964. The game that launched the Scots into the NCAA Tournament ended with a 9-point lead for Covenant and a final score of 101-92. Scots senior captain, TJ Cox, contributed to the high-scoring game with 21 points, which helped him earn the title of Tournament MVP. Berto Dryden and Bailey Spragg also earned a place on the All-Tournament team.
The following weekend, Covenant lost 51-76 at Woodruff PE Center, where the Emory Eagles dominated their home court. For most of the first half, the Scots trailed Emory despite a tight defense. Coach Taylor commented after the game that he thought Covenant’s defense was strong, but they could not manage to score.
An exciting end to the half came with 5 minutes and 35 seconds left. Robby Bell made back to back 3-pointers, and Bailey Spragg also helped boost the score. By the end of the first half, the Scots trailed Emory 33-17. The second half did not yield the results Covenant hoped for, and despite a solid effort, Emory’s lead grew and they stayed ahead the entire second half. The game ended 51-76 and Emory went on to play, and beat, Birmingham Southern before losing to Augustana in the third round of the tournament.
Coach Taylor praised Emory and acknowledged the team’s skill in a postgame recap. He noted a 19-point deficit to Berry earlier in year in which Covenant was able to make a significant dent in that lead, but said that Emory challenged Covenant more than that game.
Cox ended the game with 12 points, Bell with 9, and Daniel Garrett with 7. Chris Boyd pulled in 6 rebounds and Cox had 3 assists. The Scots may have only made 27% of shots in the final game against Emory, but the team ended the season with an overall record of 18-10, which is the most wins since the 1995-1996 season. 10 out of 14 games were conference games and the winning percentage of .643 is the highest in program history, a genuinely noteworthy accomplishment.
For seniors Cox, Bell, Garrett, Boyd, Micah Turner, and Matt den Dulk, March 4th marked the end of an impressive season and an impressive career. Coach Taylor stated after the game that he hoped his team would “realize what we’ve accomplished this year.” Here’s to a season of making history and an exciting NCAA Tournament. Covenant fans can look forward to what the returning Scots have to offer in the upcoming ‘16-’17 season.