RICHMOND, Va. – King Men's Basketball opened its season in dramatic fashion by overcoming a seven-point deficit in the second half. The Tornado held on with a defensive stand in the final seconds of the contest for a 71-69 victory. Eddie Piccinini led the Tornado in its opener with 23 points.
After taking the lead with a three pointer by sophomore Logan Lyle with over four minutes remaining in the game, King held as much as a four-point lead before both teams went without a point over a two minute span of time. Virginia Union's Juan Wilson broke that drought with a layup to cut the King lead to two, 69-67. Kimar Johnson committed the team's 10th foul, giving Drew Standifer a chance at two free throws where he split the pair and put the Tornado up three.
Standifer, in return, committed his first foul to put Damion Harris at the line where he hit two free throws to bring the Panthers within one, 70-69, with 26 seconds remaining. Virginia Union immediately fouled Jason Seymore on the inbound, putting the senior at the line. Seymore missed the front end of two shots from the charity stripe but connected on the second to give King a two-point lead with 14 seconds remaining.
The Panthers' Calvin Brown went in for a layup but missed with the ball trickling out of bounds last touched by the Tornado. On the inbound pass, Seymore thwarted any opportunity at the basket by making the team's 10th steal to give King possession as time expired, giving King a 71-69 win.
King (1-0) was down as many as seven points with just over 10 minutes left to go before the turn of the game's tide. Eddie Piccinini (Orlando, Fla.) went on spurt where he scored 10 of the Tornado's next 14 points, including a pair of three-point shots. The senior gave King its first lead of the since the start of the second half on a pair of free throw makes with 5:12 left in the game.
The Tornado held the lead through the entire first half, mounting a lead as many as 15 points. They began the game on an 11-3 run with points coming from five different scorers. Jason Seymore and Piccinini helped King reach that 15-point plateau with back-to-back three pointers to make it a 27-12 game with 9:48 in the first half. That lead diminished as the half wore on. In the final 4:52, Virginia Union went on a 14-1 run to cut the gap to one point, 36-35.
The Panthers took the lead on their first possession of the second half with a made jumper by Juan Wilson, continuing their ongoing rally toward a six-point lead, 43-37. Junior Michael Fortune snapped the King drought with a three pointer three and one half minutes into the half. Each team exchanged blows before King rallied seven points down to earn the win.
Piccinini had 10 points in the first half but outdid himself in the second with an additional 13 to combine for a team-leading 23 points. He did so on an afternoon that he shot 50 percent from the field on 7-of-14 shooting. From distance, Piccinini hit 5-of-8 to lead the team in that category, as well, while finishing with eight assists.
In his first regular season game with the Tornado, freshman center Drew Standifer (Knoxville, Tenn.) scored 12 points and was the only player to join Piccinini with double-digit points. Standifer went 4-of-7 from the field and added three rebounds.
Fellow freshmen Aaron Wheeler (Morristown, Tenn.) and Malcolm St. Louis (Lebanon, Tenn.) each scored eight points in their first action in a Tornado uniform. St. Louis went a perfect 4-for-4 from the field while Wheeler went 4-of-7. Both ended the day with two assists.
Jason Seymore (Powell, Tenn.) led the team with seven rebounds and added five points in his first action since the 2010-11 season. Michael Fortune led the team with nine assists and added six points.
Damoin Harris led the Panthers with 17 points while teammate Kimar Johnson joined him in double digits with 13 points. Johnson finished with a double-double also bringing down 10 rebounds.
King's next action will be at home on Wednesday, Nov. 14 when they host the Tusculum Pioneers. Action from within the Student Center Complex will begin at 5 p.m. with the women's team playing Virginia Intermont. The men are scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff.