March 5, 2014

Tornado top Barton, advance to tournament final

CONCORD, N.C. – For the second consecutive game, Logan Lyle had a career night for the King University men's basketball team. The junior scored 18 of King's first 20 points en route to matching his career-high in King's 80-60 victory over second seed Barton College in the semifinals of the Conference Carolinas Tournament powered by OrthoCarolina. The Tornado now matchup with fourth seed Limestone College in tomorrow's title game.

Drew Standifer scored King's first basket, a layup 40 seconds in before Lyle got hot. The Unicoi, Tenn., native drilled back-to-back three-point baskets before he moved inside the arc for a pair of deuces. Another Lyle trifecta gave King a 15-0 lead more than three minutes in.

Barton (17-11) got on the board with a pair of free throws nearly four minutes in, and made their first field goal at the 15:12 mark to make the score 15-4 before Lyle connected on another long range shot. He then made a layup to cap his remarkable start and give King a 20-4 lead seven minutes in. Michael Fortune followed with a layup to stretch King's lead to 22-4 a minute late.

The Bulldogs tried to start a run to comeback, but Lyle and the Tornado (16-12) had an answer every time in the first half. Barton cut their deficit to 12 with nine minutes left, but Hunter LeVeau hit a jumper, and Lyle converted a pair of free throws to stretch the King lead back to 16. The lead grew to 19 following a LeVeau three-point play with five minutes left in the first frame.

Barton tried to comeback late in the first half, and cut their deficit to 13, but Lyle capped his 24-point first half as he made a layup with two seconds left, giving the Tornado at 37-22 lead at halftime.

The Tornado shot a blistering 51.9 percent from the floor in the first half, and 40.0 percent from three while holding Barton to 28.6 percent from the floor as they went without a triple in the first frame. Lyle made his first seven shots of the game, and went 9-for-13 in the first half.

King held serve in the second half, stretching their lead to as many 22 points at 65-43 with seven minutes remaining. The Bulldogs answered with an 8-1 run, but it wasn't enough as the Tornado cruised to the 80-60 victory.

Lyle matched his career-high, which he set in Saturday's quarterfinal with 30 points on 11-for-20 shooting from the field, going 4-for-8 from three. Lyle and St. Louis led the Tornado with eight rebounds apiece while Fortune dished out five assists. Brandon Crompton followed Lyle with 15 points and seven rebounds while LeVeau added 10 points.

King shot 47.5 percent from the field, and held Barton to 32.4 percent shooting in the game. Neither team shot particularly well from long range, with King shooting 26.1 percent, and Barton making 23.8 percent of their attempts from long range.

Brian McNair and Khari Faison led the Bulldogs with 15 points apiece.

The third-seeded Tornado will take on fourth seed Limestone at 8:00 p.m., in the championship game of the Conference Carolinas Tournament powered by OrthoCarolina. The winner of the contest will earn the Conference Carolinas automatic bit into NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Tournament.