CONCORD, N.C. – They say defense wins championships, and tonight in the championship of the Conference Carolinas Tournament powered by OrthoCarolina proved true as fourth-seed Limestone College defeated third-seed King University 69-54. The Saint defense suffocated the King shooters en route to the victory to take the conference's automatic bid into the NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Tournament.
It appeared as though the Tornado, and Logan Lyle picked up where they left off last night in the semifinals, as Lyle drained a triple 19 seconds in to give King (16-13) lead. Shamarae Watts followed with a three-point basket of his own before back-to-back Limestone (21-8) buckets.
Hunter LeVeau and James Scales answered with back-to-back trifectas before the Saints started to make a run. P.J. Foster and Jamal McNeill hit consecutive three-point baskets to pull the Saints within three. Michael Fortune then made a layup before Shaq Dance sparked a 9-0 Limestone run. Foster drilled another triple to give Limestone their first lead of the game at 19-17 with 11 minutes left in the first half.
A tip-in by Asaad Woods capped the run before Scottie Hendricks got King back on the board with a three-point basket. The score was tied at 25 before Limestone closed the half on a 9-4 run to take a 34-29 lead at the break.
The Saints continued their hot streak to start the second half a Foster hit a jumper on the halves first possession. The Limestone grew to 12 with 12 minutes left following a Foster triple, and the lead stayed there until the Saints went on another run to the put the game out of reach.
King whittled their deficit to nine before Avery Bomar started the 12-3 spurt with a jump shot. Dance had a dunk on the run, and Woods hit a pair of free throws before Forster hit the dagger, a triple that put Limestone up 67-48 with four minutes left. From that point, the Saints cruised to the 69-54 victory to take tournament title.
Woods led Limestone with 17 points while Foster followed with 16 and Dance chipped in with 12. The Saints shot 50.9 percent from the floor and 38.1 percent from three.
The Limestone defense clamped down in the second half, holding King to a 33.3 percent from the field in the second frame, and 39.6 percent in the game. King shot 31.0 percent from three in the game. Lyle led the Tornado with 16 points. Watts added nine, and Malcolm St. Louis chipped in with eight points and six rebounds.
With the loss, King ends the season with an overall record of 16-13. The trio of seniors, Fortune, Brandon Crompton and Hendricks ended successful Tornado careers tonight as the helped King through their transition into NCAA Division II membership from NAIA. Fortune accounted for four points and four assists while Crompton had two points and two rebounds. Hendricks added three points.