King's upset bid of #3 Limestone comes up short

Photo credit: Tessa Klingensmith
Photo credit: Tessa Klingensmith

BRISTOL, Tenn.  – At the beginning of the game, it looked as though the third ranked team in the nation might have a somewhat easy victory in the Student Center Complex, but the King University women's basketball team calmed down and gave Limestone College a run for their money. The Tornado came back to even the score at halftime and never trailed in the second half until the waning seconds. The Saints got a layup with 4.2 seconds left to escape frigid Bristol with a 57-56 victory.

Limestone (25-1, 20-0 CC) started the game on a run, quickly opening up a 15-4 lead seven minutes into the contest. However, the Tornado settled in at that point, gradually working their way back into the contest. Chelsea Bowling started the comeback with one of her three triples in the contest.

Trailing 19-9, Arnelle Collins ignited a 6-0 spurt with a fastbreak layup and a jumper before Amy Van Deventer cut the deficit to 19-15 with a jumper with seven minutes remaining in the frame. After a Saint bucket, Van Deventer and Collins combined for back-to-back buckets pulling King within 21-19 with five minutes left in the first half.

Bowling gave King (19-7, 14-6 CC) their first lead at 24-22 with another trifecta before the teams went blow-for-blow over the final two minutes of the first half. The Saints scored five straight points to open up a 31-28 lead until Bowling drilled a three-point basket with four seconds remaining to even the score at 31-31 at halftime.

Van Deventer and Whitney Mitchell with back-to-back buckets to give King a 35-31 lead one minute into the second frame. The tally was even at 37 when Alley Sprouse started a Tornado run with a jump shot from the elbow. Bowling added a layup, and Jalan Harper capped the 8-0 run that put King ahead 45-37 with 13 minutes remaining.

Mitchell then gave King their largest lead of the game at 48-39 when she hit a pair of free throws with nine minutes remaining. The Tornado again led by nine at 50-41 with eight minutes left following a Van Deventer bucket before the third-ranked Saints went on a run.

Limestone scored seven straight points, capped by a Jasmine Kearse three-point basket before Collins got King back on the board with consecutive jumpers to put the Tornado back ahead 54-48 with 2:36 remaining. The Saints got back within two before Van Deventer sank a pair of free throws to put King ahead 56-52 with 1:15 remaining.

However, the Saints drilled a triple with 33 seconds left, and fouled to send King to the free throw line. The Tornado missed the front end of a one-and-one, and the Saints grabbed the rebound. Limestone called for timeout and drew up a play for Alicia Brookins who made a jumper in the paint, giving Limestone their first lead of the half at 57-56 with 4.2 seconds remaining. The Tornado couldn't get off a quality shot as the Saints escaped with the 57-56 victory.

King shot 38.6 percent from the field and 15.8 percent from three-point range while the Tornado defense held Limestone to a 34.3 field goal percentage and 20.0 three-point field goal percentage.

Van Deventer posted her third double-double of the season, going for team-highs of 18 points and 11 rebounds. Collins followed with 17 points and Bowling chipped in with 11 points to go along with eight rebounds. Mitchell dished out five assists and Tia Keitt handed out four helpers.

King will be in action again on Saturday when they travel to Belmont Abbey College. Tipoff from Belmont, N.C. is slated for 2:00 p.m. The Tornado come into the contest second place in Conference Carolinas with record of 14-6, while Belmont Abbey is in third with a mark of 13-7.

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