JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – Only a few days before their first game of the season the King University women's basketball took at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) in an exhibition down the road in Johnson City. The first half couldn't have gone any better for the Tornado as they held a 49-23 lead at the break. King later led 59-29 before their NCAA Division I foes came storming back to take the contest 73-71.
ETSU scored the first bucket of the game, but after that it was all Tornado as they scored six straight points to gain a lead they didn't relinquish until the final minutes. King scored five straight points, capped by a Chelsea Bowling triple. Brittany Stringer later drilled a triple and Bonnie Durrett followed with a layup to stretch the King lead to 18-10 with 12 minutes remaining in the first half.
King gradually extended their lead eventually taking a 21-point advantage with three minutes remaining in the half following a Stringer triple that put the Tornado ahead 40-19. Durrett added another three-point basket before Bowling score King's final five points. She made a layup with 1:22 left, and capped the half when she hit another triple with 12 seconds left to give King a commanding 49-23 lead at the break.
King shot 55.2 percent (16-for-29) in the first half, including going 7-for-12 from long range for a 58.3 percentage. The Tornado defense held ETSU to 27.8 percent shooting from the floor, and the Buccaneers didn't connect on a triple in the first half.
The hot shooting continued early in the second half as Bowling started the frame with a triple and Arnelle Collins gave King a 54-27 lead with a layup two minutes in. Durrett gave King their largest lead of the night at 59-29 with another three-point basket.
However, at that point the Buccaneers started a comeback. In all, ETSU scored 14 straight points before Collins got King back on the board to push the King lead to 61-43 with 11 minutes remaining. Durrett followed with a three-point basket to extend the Tornado advantage to 64-45, but ETSU went on another run, scoring the next 17 points to cut their deficit to just two at 64-62.
Stephanie Brantley followed with a layup, but the Buccaneers scored the next four points to tie the game with 2:22 remaining. That marked the first time since it was even at 2-2. With two minutes remaining, Bowling broke the tied with her fourth triple of the game to give King a 69-66 lead.
ETSU got a layup, and Bowling answered with a pair of free throws to give the Tornado a 71-68 lead with 42 seconds left. However, the Buccaneers scored a layup, and their pressure defense forced a turnover as Chandler Christopher made a shot falling down from the middle of the lane and added a free throw to put ETSU up 73-71 with 18 seconds left. King got off a pair of shots, but neither went down as ETSU escaped with the narrow victory.
In the game, King shot 39.0 percent from the field and 52.4 percent (11-for-21) from three-point range. The Buccaneers shot 41.6 percent for the game, including 53.7 percent in the second half.
Bowling led King with 22 points while Durrett added 13 and Collins chipped in with 12. Durrett also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds while Mitchell dished out six assists.
King opens the regular season at home on Friday and Saturday. The Tornado host Mars Hill University at 7:00 p.m., on Friday evening before taking on Tusculum College at 4:00 p.m., on Saturday afternoon.