OAKLAND CITY, Ind. - King College advanced to the semifinals of the 2011 NCCAA Division I Men's Basketball National Tournament behind an 80-74 win over Trinity Christian (Ill.) College Thursday in the quarterfinal round.
King, the event's No. 3 seed, improved to 18-14, and will play No. 2 seed Spring Arbor (Mich.) University at 6 p.m. eastern Friday to determine half of Saturday's national championship contest. Spring Arbor won a 78-54 contest against Southeastern (Fla.) University, the No. 7 seed, to tip off the tournament.
The Tornado got a season-high 28 points from senior Clarence Smith (Nashville, Tenn.) with a strong 12-for-16 effort from the floor. The 12 field goals are the most for Smith in a game this season in his sixth 20-plus point contest of 2010-11. After Thursday's game Smith moved to No. 9 on King's All-Time scoring list with 1,472 so far in his career. He needs 18 more to take the No. 8 spot. Smith also pulled in nine rebounds with a pair of blocks.
Mark Dockery (Nickelsville, Va.) added 21 points with 15 coming from behind the three-point line.
Brian Hewitt (Lexington, Ky.) poured in 14 points as well with four assists.
Jason Seymore (Powell, Tenn.) also pulled in nine rebounds while Brandon Goss (St. Louis, Mo.) dished out four assists.
After the teams battled early, Michael Fortune (Beckley, W.Va.) put King in front with 13:03 left in the opening half with the score 14-12.
A three pointer from Hewitt put King up 36-27 with 3:49 on the clock, the largest lead of the half. Eventually the Tornado took a 37-30 lead to the halftime break.
King built an eight-point lead, 43-35, three minutes into the second half, but Trinity did not go away. The No. 6 seed tied things at 45 with 13:47 on the clock after a tip-in by Josh Flikkema. The Tornado got a jumper from Smith before the game was tied again.
From there a three pointer by Dockery put King in front for good , 50-47, with 11:43 to go. King's next two points were via Dockery on a dunk before Smith added two and Hewitt drained a three to give the 2010 national runner up a 10-point lead.
A 14-point lead, 74-60, was built with 4:24 to go, but the Trolls of Trinity Christian fought back to make it a five-point game, 77-72 with a minute left. The Tornado went 3-for-4 at the line in the final 46 seconds to help secure the win.
Jamie King paced Trinity Christian with 21 points while teammate Matt Buren scored 14 points and grabbed a dozen rebounds. Jonathan Huizinga and Joel Kamp both finished with a dozen points each.
Trinity Christian and Southeastern will play a 2 p.m. consolation bracket semifinal Friday.
For more information on the NCCAA National Tournament, click here.