BRISTOL, Tenn. – With the help of a stalwart defense combined with King's control of the boards, the Lady Tornado kicked off part one of Solid Blue 2013 with a 55-36 win over Erskine College. Alley Sprouse dominated the paint and the duo of Kelly Jackson and Stephanie Brantley led the offense toward the team's 10th win of the season with 11 points each, Wednesday night.
King reached its first double-digit lead before the halfway point of the opening frame with a 19-5 run out of the gate. The run was fueled by superb free-throw shooting by King as they hit all seven attempts from the charity stripe in that time. Sophomore center Alley Sprouse (Newport, Tenn.) began her dominance in the paint with four of her first of six points on the night coming during the opening run. Freshman Stephanie Brantley (Pilot Mountain, Tenn.) and sophomore Chelsea Bowling (Elizabethton, Tenn.) each capped off the rally with three-point makes before Erskine answered with five straight points to cut the lead to 19-11.
King (10-9, 6-9) continued its strong free-throw shooting performance by finishing the first half hitting all nine of its tries from the line. Brantley added two more threes in the final 2:30 to help build King's lead to 16. A late bucket with seconds left on the clock left the score at 27-13 at the buzzer.
Erskine made only three field goals in the opening half and shot 13 percent. Two of their three field goals were made from long range.
The Flying Fleet opened the half with back-to-back buckets leading to a 5-0 run to begin the second half and cutting the King lead to nine points, 27-18. King returned fire with baskets in consecutive possessions to build their lead back to 14 and with Bonnie Durrett knocking down both of her three pointers in less than a minute, King had its lead back up to 18 points with 10:30 left to go.
Despite increasing their field goal shooting, the Erskine offense was held to just 23 points in the second half with help from four blocks by Alley Sprouse, all coming in the second half. She controlled the boards, pulling down seven of her 14 rebounds in the second half to compliment her defensive effort.
As part of King's 45.8 field goal shooting percentage in the second half, junior forward Kelly Jackson (Lynchburg, Va.) quietly totaled nine points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field. The Lady Tornado finished the half knocking down 11-of-24, including a trio of three-pointers.
Stephanie Brantley and Kelly Jackson led the team with 11 points each and were the only King players in double figures scoring. Bonnie Durrett (West Paducah, Ky.) pulled down 10 rebounds and added six points in the win. She now has 10 or more rebounds in her last two contests and four of her last six games.
Erskine's Tori Whittenberg led all scorers with 15 points and added five rebounds. Jana Dixon led the Fleet with 11 rebounds. They are now 2-19 overall and 1-14 in conference play.
The win breaks a four-game losing streak, King's longest of the season. It also marks the fewest points allowed to an opponent this season and the second time the Lady Tornado have held the Fleet to under 50 points this season. They will begin a two-game road trip beginning with Belmont Abbey on Feb. 9 followed by rival Lees-McRae on Feb. 13.