Tornado down Flying Fleet 64-49

Photo taken by Rachel Burrus.
Photo taken by Rachel Burrus.

BRISTOL, Tenn. – The King University women's basketball team won its fourth conference game in its last five attempts on Wednesday night, defeating Erskine College 64-49 to move into sole possession of fourth place in the Conference Carolinas standings. The Tornado (13-6, 7-4 Conference Carolinas) now sit just one-half game out of third, setting up a crucial Saturday matchup with third-place University of Mount Olive in Bristol.

The Tornado's offense began and ended with Bonnie Durrett, who set a new career high with 25 points on her way to her eighth double-double of the season. With a rare opportunity to provide a spark off the bench, Durrett surpassed her previous career high of 21 points, which she accomplished last January against the Flying Fleet. She also pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds, helping King outrebound the Fleet 57-43.

Freshman Jalan Harper, making just her second start of the season, was a force on the boards as well, collecting ten rebounds. Chelsea Bowling added seven boards, while Tia Keitt, Sydney Harris, and Stephanie Brantley each chipped in five.

Harris also had a stellar night shooting the ball, going 5-for-9 from the field on her way to a 16-point performance. She was just two points from tying her career high, which was set against Virginia Intermont College earlier this season.

Both teams struggled from the outset. Erskine (12-8, 7-5 Conference Carolinas) scored the first points of the game at the 16:44 mark of the first half, and the game was tied at 11 midway through the opening stanza. Harris and Harper knocked down back-to-back three-pointers to break a 13-13 tie, and the Tornado would never trail again.

Early in the second half, King's lead hovered between three and eight points. But a three-point play by Brantley sparked a 9-0 run that gave the Tornado a 50-36 lead with 8:29 to play, and the teams would trade baskets until the final buzzer.

Erskine was led by junior forward Tara Potter, who nearly matched Durrett's double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds of her own. The conference's leader in field goal percentage was the catalyst for the Fleet offense. But King's stifling defense, ranked first in Conference Carolinas in opponents' field-goal percentage, held Erskine to just 30.3 percent shooting from the floor.

The Tornado were relentless on the offensive glass, scoring 19 second-chance points on the evening. King also forced 15 turnovers, including eight steals, and blocked three shots.

The Tornado play the second of five home contests in a nine-day stretch this Saturday, hosting the University of Mount Olive in a crucial Conference Carolinas matchup. The winner will have possession of third place in the league standings with one-third of the conference slate remaining. The top four seeds will host conference tournament quarterfinal matchups. Tipoff for the game against the Trojans is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

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