March 5, 2014

King falls to Limestone in Conference Carolinas Tournament semifinals

CONCORD, N.C. – In the first semifinal of the Conference Carolinas Tournament powered by OrthoCarolina, top-seeded Limestone College defeated the No. 4 King University Tornado 73-58 in women's basketball action behind the efforts of Celestra Warren, Alicia Brookins, and Jasmine Kearse, who all scored in double figures for the Saints.

Warren led all scorers with 17 points off the bench on 7-of-12 shooting from the floor and added in six rebounds. Brookins followed closely behind with 16 points and pulled down a team-high rebounds, while Kearse poured in 14 points.

The Saints (23-5) never trailed in the game, coming out firing on all cylinders offensively and appearing to be heading for a rout early in the contest. A three-point play by Warren gave Limestone a 16-4 lead just 4:57 into the contest and marked the seventh made field goal in 11 attempts for the Saints.

But the Tornado (17-11) fought their way back into contention, using a three-point field goal by Jalan Harper to stop the Saints' run and got a pair of triples from Bonnie Durrett moments later to cut the lead to 10. A layup from Kelly Jackson and three-point basket from Stephanie Brantley pulled King to within five points, capping an 11-2 Tornado run.

The Tornado would continue to keep Limestone within striking distance in the first half, closing to within two points with 1:55 remaining in the first 20 minutes. But the Saints would close the half on a 7-1 run to lead 41-33 at the break and never trailed in the contest.

Limestone stretched their lead to 10 points early in the second stanza, but King would again close the lead to one possession, this time using a 10-3 run keyed by an Alley Sprouse jumper to make the score 46-43. The Saints responded by scoring 13 of the game's next 16 points, however, and kept their cushion in double digits for much of the remaining nine minutes before pulling away over their last four possessions to win 73-58.

The Tornado were led by Bonnie Durrett, who scored 12 points and collected 10 rebounds for her ninth double-double of the season. Stephanie Brantley came within two rebounds of her career high, finishing with eight boards to go along with her ten points. Jalan Harper also had a notable performance, with nine points and six rebounds, while Whitney Mitchell finished with a game-high three steals.

The Saints lit up the sixth-ranked field-goal percentage defense in NCAA Division II for 46.4 percent shooting and had 15 assists on their 32 made baskets. Limestone also forced 16 Tornado turnovers, including nine via the steal, while committing just six on the game. Both teams excelled in the lane, with King's 28 points in the paint trumped by 38 from Limestone.

Limestone will advance to the finals of the Conference Carolinas Tournament powered by OrthoCarolina to meet the winner of Wednesday's second semifinal game between No. 3 seed University of Mount Olive and seventh-seeded Barton College. Thursday's championship game will tip off at 5:00 p.m. With the loss, King's season comes to an end with a 17-11 overall record.