King Closes Door on Milligan with Late Push

King Closes Door on Milligan with Late Push
BRISTOL, Tenn. – The visiting Milligan College Buffaloes and host King College battled tooth and nail while renewing their regional rivalry and wowed a full house with a to-the-wire finish. King held off a late charge by the Buffaloes with a combination of clutch offense and consistency at the free throw line in a 63-60 win in their home opener, Saturday night.

Postgame audio (.mp3)
Head Coach George Pitts - click here
Senior guard Eddie Piccinini - click here

The tide began to turn for the Tornado with just under eight minutes remaining when Brian Hewitt (Lexington, Ky.) hit one of King's five three pointers to extend their lead to six points. The two teams exchanged baskets before Cordero Seymore and Marshal Hardy hit back-to-back shots to bring the Buffaloes back within a basket, 53-51.

With momentum on the Buffaloes' side, King senior Lio Gideon (Marsh Harbor, Bahamas) responded with a crowd-raising jumper from 15 feet away, ending the miniature Milligan run and shifting the tide of the game. With the score 55-51 at this point, Milligan scored on a fourth opportunity on their next possession. Hardy recorded two offensive rebounds on a pair of missed shots to keep the Buffaloes alive and scored a putback basket to bring the deficit within a basket, 55-53. Within two minutes remaining, Logan Lyle (Unicoi, Tenn.) hit a pair to extend the lead to four points but Hardy again answered the call with a layup on the other end of the floor before fouling out on the next possession.

Following a pair of Eddie Piccinini (Orlando, Fla.) made free throws, Milligan's Mickey Woods hit a three to draw within one point of the Tornado, 59-58. King went on the score the next four points, all on free throws following fouls. Down by three, Bryant Edwards attempted a three-point shot but missed and committed a foul under the basket to put the ball back on the line for King. Lyle hit both of his shots from the stripe to extend the lead to five and seal the win for the Tornado.

King (7-2) and Milligan (4-4) battled to a 29-29 tie at the half, led by Michael Fortune's 13 first-half points. He went 3-for-5 from deep in the first half, accounting for all the team's first half three pointers.

Fortune (Beckley, W.Va.) led all King scorers with 18 points before leaving the game due to an injury with three minutes remaining. Piccinini also scored in double figures with 11 points and led the team with seven rebounds. Gideon finished with a season-high eight points and contributed six rebounds in 21 minutes.

King forced 17 turnovers and turned them into 12 points, while limiting themselves to just 11 miscues on the court.

The Tornado now prepare for their second of four home games to be played on Saturday, Dec. 10 against Augusta State. The matchup will reunite King with former assistant coach Jamie Quarles who took an assistant coaching position with the Jaguars this year. The men are scheduled to play at 7:00 p.m. and serve as the nightcap to a basketball doubleheader. The Lady Tornado will play Lincoln Memorial at 5:00 p.m. at the Student Center to open the action.