BRISTOL, Tenn. – After falling behind by 14 points early in the first half, the King University women's basketball team was able to claw its way back into contention before falling to Conference Carolinas foe Barton College 84-76.
The Bulldogs (7-6, 4-1 Conference Carolinas) twice led by 14 points in the first half, jumping out to a 21-7 advantage in the first 6:40 of play and equaling their largest lead at the 6:56 mark of the first half with a 31-17 advantage. But the Tornado went on a 22-9 run spanning both halves to trim the Bulldog lead to a single point with 18:04 to play. A jumper from Sydney Harris and back-to-back layups by Alley Sprouse keyed the Tornado's run, which saw King shoot 10-for-16 from the floor.
King, which fell to 9-4 overall and 3-2 in conference play, was able to take its first lead of the game on a Whitney Mitchell layup with 15:13 to play, the first of eight lead changes in the contest. The Tornado fell behind by eight points with 9:14 remaining before going on a 17-6 run to take a three-point lead with just over four minutes to play.
But the Bulldogs were able to close out the game by scoring 17 points in the final four minutes, taking the lead for good on a three-point basket by Ashley Thornton following an offensive rebound with 1:46 to go. After a missed shot by the Tornado, Nyesha Willie's jumper gave Barton a four-point lead. Two free throws by the Tornado halved the advantage, but Willie struck again for a jumper, then hit four free throws with 14 seconds remaining following a missed shot, a foul, and a technical foul to ice the game.
The Tornado were paced by Stephanie Brantley and Sprouse, who poured in 17 and 16 points, respectively. Chelsea Bowling's 11 points and Harris' 10 gave King four scorers in double figures. Bonnie Durrett, Bowling, and Brantley each led the team with six rebounds.
Barton held a slim 42-39 rebounding advantage, led by ten boards from Caila Carter. While King outscored the Bulldogs 42-34 in the paint, the difference in the game was Barton's Nyesha Willie. The senior guard scored a career-high 39 points on 11-for-26 shooting, including a trio of three-point baskets and a 14-for-15 performance from the free throw line. Tiffany Webster and Ashley Thornton scored 15 and 11 points, respectively.
The Tornado shot 45.5 percent on field goal attempts well above the team's season average. But King was just 10-for-18 on free throw attempts, while the Bulldogs were 16-for-19 in the contest.
The Tornado will next return to action on Wednesday for a 5:30 p.m. tipoff at conference foe Limestone College. King's next home contest will take place on Tuesday, January 21 vs. Belmont Abbey.