Brian Hewitt (Lexington, Ky.) helped King break away early scoring eight unanswered points in 1:14 through the first half to give King a 26-16 lead near the 11-minute mark. The senior guard hit back-to-back threes and converted a layup after a Belmont Abbey turnover and foul by Tyshawn Good. The Crusaders cut into the lead and trailed by four points with five minutes to go, but Hewitt again led a charge. He hit a pair of threes in the next four King possessions, accompanied with another three by junior guard Eddie Piccinini (Orlando, Fla.). The Tornado garnered another 10-point lead and took a 48-42 score into the half after surrendering a last-second layup.
The Abbeys (8-5, 2-1) fought back and took a temporary lead at 14:44 in the second half but King stormed back on a 13-5 run to permanently hold an advantage over Belmont Abbey. The Crusaders again tied the game at 72 with 8:35 to go, but never regained the lead. King ended the game on a 20-9 run with Brandon Goss (St. Louis, Mo.) icing the game with a pair of threes and converted free throw shots in the final 5:35 to lead the Tornado to a 92-81 victory.
King (12-3, 4-0), who sits atop the NCAA Division II in three-point shooting percentage, hit 45.2 percent of its shots from behind the arc (14-31). They hit more than 54 percent of their total shots taken on 31-of-57 from the field and finished with six of eight players who attempted a shot hitting half or more of their attempts. King went near-perfect from the charity stripe, hitting 16-of-17 free throws on the night.
The Tornado featured two 20-plus point scorers, led by Hewitt who dropped 23 on the Abbeys. He went 8-for-13 overall and 4-for-9 from distance, chipping in three rebounds and four assists as well. Piccinini served up 20 points, four rebounds and six assists. Goss led the team with seven assists and put up 15 points and five boards. Lio Gideon (Marsh Harbor, Bahamas) again dominated the paint with nine rebounds, eight on the defensive side. Fortune rounded out the double-digit scorers with 17 points and hit 5-of-9 three pointers.
The entire starting lineup for Belmont Abbey scored in double digits, but mustered only six points off its bench in its first conference loss of the season. They were led by Tyshawn Good's 21 points. Kyle Phillips notched a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
King returns to the court on Jan. 14 in a road contest with Coker College. The Tornado and Cobras will tip off at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday before making their return home for a two-game stint against Lees-McRae (Jan. 16) and Barton College (Jan. 21).