Lady Tornado Upset Defending Champs for Second Straight Win
After taking a seven-point lead with 5:18 remaining in the game, the largest lead either team had through the entire contest, King ended the game on a 9-1 run to take the win away. Junior Brittany Kinser (Greeneville, Tenn.) began the comeback by draining one of her two three-pointers on the night to draw within four points, 51-47. Both teams exchanged missed baskets before Brooke Johnson (Roan Mountain, Tenn.) brought down a rebound on a Faith Hunter miss and hit a jumper beyond the right elbow to make it a one-basket game.
Barton extended the lead to three when Janae Jackson hit the backend of her trip to the charity stripe following a foul by freshman center Alley Sprouse (Newport, Tenn.). Sprouse made up for the foul on the following drive when she fought through traffic and a foul by Jackson, hitting a jumper in the paint with 49 seconds left to go. Sprouse converted the three-point play with a made free throw attempt to tie the game at 52.
Nyeshea Willie had an opportunity to give Barton the lead out of a timeout taken by her own bench but missed a mid-range jumper that was boarded by senior guard Jana Gross (Dayton, Ohio). King used one of its full timeouts to set up the next play which sent Johnson through the lane on her way to the basket. Jackson committed her fifth and final foul, making contact with Johnson on her way to the bucket putting the junior on the line for two shots. Johnson missed the first of two but converted on the second to give the Lady Tornado a 53-52 lead with five seconds to go.
Jannetta Robinson took the inbound and pushed it up the floor. Faith Hunter then received her pass and drove the far-side baseline attempting to find an open look to the basket. The King defense clamped down and Hunter took an errant shot six feet away but hit the bottom of the backboard as time expired, resulting in a 53-52 King win.
King (3-13, 3-5) jumped out to an early 9-2 lead in the opening five minutes but the defending Conference Carolinas Tournament champions resiliently battled back quickly and retook the lead within two minutes of that point. King regained a two-point lead inside the eight-minute mark on more Brooke Johnson free throws while the two teams jostled for the lead near halftime. Leading 25-24, King allowed seven of the final 11 points of the half to give Barton a 31-29 lead at the half.
The Lady Tornado never trailed by more than three points until the nine-minute mark of the second half when Shante Neal hit a jumper to give the Bulldogs a four-point advantage and fought to keep it until the final five minutes when King began their comeback.
Sprouse led the Lady Tornado with 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the field to accompany a pair of blocks. Brooke Johnson was two rebounds shy of a double-double, totaling eight boards and 12 points. Mikki Oliver (Hampton, Tenn.) matched Johnson's 12 points but had a flawless day shooting, hitting all four of her shot attempts from the field and from the free throw line.
The win helps King to a 3-5 Conference Carolinas ledger and marks their second consecutive win after a 55-52 victory against Lees-McRae at home earlier this week. In each victory, the Lady Tornado held their opponent to 52 points. They will take to the road to play the Erskine Flying Fleet on Tuesday, Jan. 24. Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m. from Belk Arena (Due West, S.C.).