BRISTOL, Tenn. – The King University men's basketball team finally returned home to the Student Center Complex after playing their last four games on the road. However, the friendly confines of the Student Center weren't very friendly on Saturday night as the Tornado fell to Conference Carolinas rival Lees-McRae College 78-73.
The Bobcats (4-5, 10- CC) got off to a hot start, scoring the game's first four points, only to see Hunter LeVeau and Drew Standifer even the score with back-to-back buckets. Lees-McRae led by three until C.J. Good nailed his first three-point basket to tie the score at 9-9.
The score was tied for the fourth and final time a 13-13 before the Bobcats' Mike Chambers drilled a triple to give Lees-McRae the lead. With the shot clock running down, Good connected on an off balance three-point basket from the left wing to pull King within one before Lees-McRae went on a quick 5-0 spurt with a pair of free throws. After a King bucket, the Bobcats extended their lead to 29-20, their largest of the half following five straight points with 4:00 minutes left in the half.
King (3-5, 1-1 CC) answered with six straight points, capped by a Calvin Walker jumper that pulled King within 29-26 with just more than two minutes left in the frame. Nevertheless, the Bobcats closed the half on a 6-2 run to hold a 35-28 lead at the break.
Lees-McRae opened the second half by scoring eight of the first 10 points to gain their largest lead of the game at 43-30 with 18:01 remaining. However, the Tornado tried to come back as LeVeau nailed a pair of free throws to start a spurt. Michael Fortune followed with a three-point basket and Good made one-of-two free throws following a technical foul. After that, Lyle capped the 9-0 run with a free throw to pull King within 43-39 with more than 15 minutes remaining.
The Bobcats had an answer again, however, as they quickly stretched their lead back to eight points. The Lees-McRae lead hovered between four and eight points for the next five minutes until Good connected on another long range attempt to pull King within 55-52 with just under eight minutes left.
The Tornado deficit again grew to eight points following a Mike Chambers fade away jump shot that beat the shot clock from 18 feet in the left corner. However, Scottie Hendricks had an answer as he drilled three-point baskets on consecutive possessions to pull King within 67-65 with 2:54 remaining.
After Lees-McRae stretched the lead back to five points, Logan Lyle cut King's deficit to 71-70 when he made three free throws. The Tornado defense clamped down and got two steals down the stretch that would have gave King a chance to tie or take the lead, but King wasn't able to hang on to either as the Bobcats took the ball right back and iced 78-83 win at the free throw line.
Lees-McRae shot 40.7 percent from the floor while holding King to a 32.1 field goal percentage. Neither team shot well from three-point range, with the Bobcats making 28.6 percent of their attempts from long range, and King shot 22.2 percent from beyond the arc. However, both team shot well at the free throw line. Lees-McRae went 30-for-36 for an 83.3 percentage, and King made 85.3 percent (29-for-34) from the charity stripe.
Lyle led King with 15 points while Good followed with 12, and Standifer chipped in with 10 points. Standifer also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.
King will be on the road again on Wednesday when they travel to Greeneville, Tenn., to take on Tusculum College. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.