Fleet Crash and Burn in Rematch with Tornado
BRISTOL, Tenn. – As students, faculty, staff, and fans packed the Student Center Complex for the second leg of Wednesday's Solid Blue basketball doubleheader, Logan Lyle gave them all something to cheer for with his game-high 22 points leading King to a 67-59 win over Erskine College. King's defense forced 21 turnovers to keep the Flying Fleet away from the bucket to help the Tornado to its 14th win of the season.
Erskine jumped out to a 7-0 run behind Roderick Perkins scoring the game's first five points on straight possessions. It was their first and last lead of the game as King responded with 16 consecutive points. Junior Scottie Hendricks (Radford, Va.) fueled the momentum shift with the go-ahead three pointed to give King an 8-7 lead followed by fast-break layup off a steal by teammate Michael Fortune. Hendricks then continued the team's rally and capped off his own personal 11-0 run with back-to-back threes leading to a 16-7 King advantage.
Michael Fortune (Beckley, W.Va.) kept the crowd roaring with another three-ball with 4:02 remaining and keeping the King lead to nine points. Both teams went cold over a three-minute span to close out the half though the Tornado took a 27-17 lead going into the half. Nine of King's points came off of 12 Erskine turnovers committed in the opening frame.
Logan Lyle (Unicoi, Tenn.) quickly made it known that the second half was his for the taking by hitting all five of his three pointers on the night. He opened the half with long-range makes on his first two attempts to extend King's lead to 12 points. Nearing the midway point of the frame, Lyle hit three straight threes that riled the crowd and built King's lead to a game-high 16 points. Lyle scored 11 of the team 13 points in just a span of 2:51, beginning with a layup as he rode the base line and kissed one off the glass. Following dueling layups from Erskine's Adison Lawrence and King's Keenan Froedden (Nashville, Tenn.), Lyle showed off his hot hand by hitting three straight treys in just over one minute of play.
King's lead was no fewer than nine points the rest of the way despite Erskine shooting 41.9 percent in the half. The Fleet committed nine more turnovers in the half keeping their offense off-balance while King continued to hold its distance to the final horn.
Lyle led all scorers with 22 points, matching his current season high for the second straight contest. He originally set the mark on the road against USC Aiken before matching it in the team's upset win over then-No. 12 Barton last weekend. In those three games, he has combined for a perfect 16-for-16 from the free-throw line and shot better than 50 percent from the field.
Michael Fortune and Scottie Hendricks joined Lyle in the double-digit scoring club with 11 points each. The two combined for 9-of-18 (.500) shooting from the field. Fortune also lead the Tornado with four assists.
Jason Seymore was one field goal and one rebound away from his ninth double-double of the season, finishing with nine boards and eight points on the night.
The win improves King's overall record to 15-5, the first team in the conference to hit the 15-win plateau. They possess a 10-4 Conference Carolinas record and currently stand atop the league standings by currently holding the tiebreaker over Limestone with their win over the Saints earlier this season.
The Tornado will play its next two games on the road. They open their mini-road trip at Belmont Abbey as part of the Solid Blue Road Trip heading to Belmont, N.C. on Feb. 9. Tickets are on sale for the event in MacClellan Hall during lunch hours or at the Tornado Alley Shoppe during business hours. Tickets are $20 for admission to the game, a ride on a charter bus to and from the game, and a $10 voucher for meals on the return trip. King will then play Lees-McRae in Banner Elk, N.C. on Feb. 13 to complete the basketball portion of the inaugural Battle of the Blue Ridge Cup.