MC's Clifton earns USA South Player of the Week as Scots sweep Covenant

MC's Clifton earns USA South Player of the Week as Scots sweep Covenant

Maryville College's Nicholas Clifton was named USA South Player of the Week, as he helped the Scots remain in the driver's seat of the West Division with a two-game sweep of Covenant College.

Clifton – a Sylvania, Ga. native – averaged 14.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in a Battle of the Scots sweep, while his lockdown defense kept one of Covenant's best players in check.

"I think he finally got to be as close to 100 percent as he's been this year," Head Coach Raul Placeres said. "I think the break, obviously, helped his knees. He just looked a little more fresh on Friday night, and he continued his consistent play on Saturday. We're just really proud of his effort. I think he averaged 14 and eight for the weekend. We needed that performance from him. I know when they announce Players of the Week, they really don't take into account the defensive part of it. He was really important for us, because he matched up with [Will] Crumly for most of the game. Crumly is a two-time Player of the Year in the conference and an All-American. Nick did as good a job against him as anyone has done all year."

With Clifton's scoring and rebounding, he added 2.0 blocks, 1.5 steals and 1.0 assists per game.

In the first game of the week on Friday night, Clifton boasted a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Scots to a 76-64 victory. That win ranked as MC's fifth in a row, as he added three steals, two assists and a block.

Clifton had a huge first half to give MC a 34-30 lead at the break, as he scored nine of his 13 points in the first 20 minutes. The sophomore had six rebounds in that span, as she shot 4-of-5 from the field.

In the Scots' second game of the weekend on Saturday, Maryville trailed most of the contest. A Clifton old-fashioned 3-pointer with 5:18 left gave MC its first lead in 30:34.

The Scots battled late, as a Myles Rasnick last-second jumper secured the 64-62 victory.

Clifton led Maryville with in the game with 15 points and six rebounds, as he tallied a trio of blocks.

In all, 10 of Clifton's 15 points and each of his three blocks came in Maryville's second-half rally.

"The guys knew how big this weekend was," Placeres said. "He's one of our captains. They call him 'Grandpa' because he's one of the oldest guys and he moves around like a grandpa, but the guys have the most respect for Nick because of how hard he works on and off the floor. For him to just have another good performance for us on Saturday and give us a chance to win the division outright this week, I couldn't be any happier for him. We're thrilled for him that he was recognized this week, and hopefully, he can continue to help us win games over the next two weeks."

On the year, Clifton has averaged 7.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per contest for MC. He's added 1.1 blocks per game on the defensive end, while forcing nearly a steal a game. He's shot 47.2 percent from the floor across MC's eight games.

Clifton will look to lead the Scots this weekend, as they face LaGrange College for two games in hopes of winning the USA South West Division outright. The Panthers (6-2) are just one game back in the USA South standings.

Maryville hosts LaGrange on Thursday, Feb. 25 at 3:00 p.m., before the Scots travel to LaGrange, Ga. for a second game on Saturday, Feb. 27. That game is also a 3:00 p.m. tipoff.