The Covenant women's basketball team could not sustain a hot first half as the Scots suffered a third straight loss with a 73-69 defeat at Birmingham Southern on Tuesday night inside Bill Battle Coliseum.
Three players scored in double figures for Covenant (1-3) led by Joanna Smith's double-double of 19 points and 16 rebounds to go along with three assists and five steals. Bekah Walter and Taylor Robinson each had 12 points, with Robinson pulling down seven rebounds.
Emma Grimes added nine points off the bench and Jessica Bell scored six of her eight points on the night in the first period.
The Scots used a pair of 13-2 runs, one in each of the first two quarters, to go into halftime with a 37-34 lead.
The first such run came in the first quarter after Covenant trailed 8-5, the Scots rattled off 13 of the next 15 points to gain an 18-10 lead on a pair of Bell free throws with 2:05 left in the period. Bell and Walter each had four points during the stretch.
In the second, Birmingham Southern (2-2) used a substantial run to take a 32-24 lead with 2:22 left. But another 13-2 spurt over the final two-plus minutes of the half gave the Scots a three-point edge at the break. Walter made two 3-pointers during the run, including one at the buzzer at the end of the period, while Kaylea McAllister had a trey of her own and Hannah Monday registered a conventional three-point play.
Covenant shot 43.7 percent (14-of-32) in the first half with five 3-pointers.
The Scots extended the lead to 41-35 on a Smith jumper early in the third. Both offenses stalled a bit later in the quarter, but Birmingham Southern was able to get two free throws from Taydra Holt with 17 seconds left in the period to take a 53-51 lead into the fourth.
Covenant tied the score at 53-53 with two Bell free throws with just over eight minutes left in the fourth, but the Scots scored two points over the next five-plus minutes as the host Panthers built a 10-point lead at 65-55 with 2:49 remaining. Two Grimes 3-pointers sliced the Scots' deficit to four at 68-64 with under a minute to go. Covenant got within three after Robinson was fouled on a 3-point attempt and knocked down all her free throws to make it 72-69 with 19 seconds left, but that was as close as the Scots would get.
Covenant finished shooting 36.4 percent (24-of-66) from the field with 10 3-pointers. The Scots held a huge rebounding edge in the contest at 49-30. Birmingham Southern connected on 46.3 percent (25-of-54) while only making four treys.
Emilee Olson led the Panthers with a game-high 27 points to go with seven rebounds. Misa Fujii had 12 points and Elizabeth Philpot added 10.
Covenant will open USA South play on Friday against Berea at home. Tip-off inside Barnes PE Center is set for 5:30 p.m.