OAKLAND CITY, Ind. - King College will not make a return trip to the NCCAA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship game after the Tornado was defeated by Spring Arbor (Mich.) University 66-64 Friday in a semifinal contest.
The Tornado, now at 18-15 on the season, will play at 7 p.m. Saturday for third place. King, the tournament's No. 3 seed, will face the loser between top-seed Dallas Baptist (Texas) University and No. 4 seed Roberts Wesleyan (N.Y.) College. The winner has a 9 p.m. contest with Spring Arbor for the NCCAA National Championship.
King jumped out to a 15-0 lead in the opening 3:42. Mark Dockery (Nickelsville, Va.) scored 11 of the Tornado's 15 points with the other four coming from Clarence Smith (Nashville, Tenn.). Dockery finished with 19 points behind five 3-pointers. Smith added 14 points to move him within four points of taking No. 8 on King's All-Time scoring list with 1,486 career points entering Saturday. He also blocked a season-best three shots.
Spring Arbor fought back and eventually took a 23-22 lead 5:42 before halftime with a lay-up by Willie Pickvet. It was part of a 12-0 Spring Arbor run that made the score 30-22 with 3:16 on the clock.
Jason Seymore (Powell, Tenn.) stopped the King drought with a layup of his own. He went onto post his ninth double-double of the season with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
The halftime score saw Spring Arbor lead 31-25.
In the first 2:12 of the final half Spring Arbor outscored King 8-2 to build the largest lead for the No. 2 seed at 12, 39-27.
In the final minute King got back to within two, 63-61, after a Smith jumper with 15 seconds left. D.J. Baisden put in two free throws and Dockery got King back within one with a three pointer with eight seconds left. A free throw from Chris Bellamy came with five seconds to go and Brandon Goss' (St. Louis, Mo.) jumper did not go in as time expired.
Brian Hewitt (Lexington, Ky.) finished with a dozen points. The Tornado bench added nine points.
Baisden had a game-best 22 points with 17 from Willie Pickvet.
King made one more basket than Spring Arbor, 23-22, with two more three pointers as well, 10-8. Spring Arbor had the advantage at the free throw line 14-for-20 compared to 8-for-13 for King.
The Tornado pulled in 34 rebounds, two fewer than Spring Arbor.
Both teams committed 16 turnovers and each squad dished out 14 assists.
Friday's contest was only the second time King had played Spring Arbor with the first coming in the 1996-97 season, an 82-70 win for Spring Arbor.