Second half run pushes King past Lees-McRae

Photo Credit: Tessa Klingensmith
Photo Credit: Tessa Klingensmith

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Following a tough week, the King University broke out of their mini slump with a big 78-47 win over Lees-McRae College. The Tornado were on fire from the field, topping the 50.0 percent mark for the third time this season as the win locked up the No. 2 seed in the upcoming Conference Carolinas Tournament.

It didn't take the Tornado long to grab the lead as senior Bonnie Durrett got King (20-8, 15-7 CC) on the board with a triple, and Whitney Mitchell followed with a trifecta to put King up 6-2. Jalan Harper then got a steal and fastbreak layup to stretch the Tornado lead to 8-2 seven minutes in.

Lees-McRae (6-20, 5-17 CC) came back and got within four before Tia Keitt made three free throws to start a 9-0 King run. Harper followed the free throws with three straight layups, and after a Bobcat free throw, Arnelle Collins scored back-to-back buckets for King. Chelsea Bowling then capped the 15-1 run with another layup, giving King a 25-7 lead with eight minutes left in the first half.

After the Bobcats cut their deficit back to nine, Bowling connected on back-to-back three-point baskets, stretching the lead back to 15. Lees-McRae score the final basket of the half to make the score 34-21 in favor of King.

The Tornado lead was cut to 47-36 with 12 minutes remaining before the defense dug in and Amy Van Deventer and Harper ignited the King offense with a layup and three-point basket. The King defense held Lees-McRae scoreless for eight minutes and 29 seconds as the offense continued to rack up points, totaling a 23-0 run. Alley Sprouse connected on three buckets in the pain on the run, and capped the spurt that gave King a 70-36 lead with a pair of free throws with four minutes remaining.

Bowling gave King their largest lead of the game at 74-38 with four minutes remaining as the Tornado went on to take the contest 78-47.

King shot a blistering 54.7 percent from the floor, and 36.8 percent from long range while holding Lees-McRae to 29.7 percent from the floor and 23.5 percent from three-point land.

Senior Sprouse led the Tornado with 13 points, five rebounds and five blocks on senior day while Harper added 11. Van Deventer added 10 points, and fellow senior Bowling accounted for 10 points and seven rebounds while Keitt, a senior chipped in with nine points and eight assists. King's final senior, Durrett scored six points and grabbed five rebounds.

The win is King's 20th of the year, marking the first time since 2007-08 the Tornado have reached the 20-win plateau, and the first since becoming NCAA Division II members in 2010-11. The Tornado also clinched the second seed in the upcoming Conference Carolinas Tournament that starts on Saturday. King will face seventh seed University of Mount Olive on Saturday in the Student Center Complex with tipoff slated for 2:00 p.m.

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