November 12, 2011

Tornado Outlasted by No. 2 Lincoln Memorial, 75-69

HARROGATE, Tenn. – Heading into the final day of the SAC/Conference Carolinas Challenge at Harrogate, Tenn., the Tornado were served with one of their steepest challenges they will face in the early part of their 2011-12 season. King College went into hostile territory where host school and No. 2 Lincoln Memorial University laid waiting. The Tornado held a lead over the nationally-ranked Railsplitters briefly in the last five minutes of the game but eventually succumbed to a 75-69 defeat.
 

After LMU took an 8-0 lead coming out of the gate, King (1-1) settled down and fought back over the next three minute to cut the lead to four points with an 8-3 run heading into the third media timeout. Brian Hewitt (Lexington, Ky.) and Michael Fortune (Beckley, W.Va.) gave the lead back to King with back-to-back threes to put the Tornado up, 27-25 with 6:38 remaining in the second half. The two teams jostled back and forth, exchanging blows from the field.

Eddie Piccinini (Orlando, Fla.) picked up where he left off with 12 first half points. He was sent to the line seven times in the first, hitting all seven attempts from the line and chipping in with a three-pointer as the Tornado began its early comeback. The Railsplitters scored six of the final eight points in the last two minutes of the half and went into the locker room down 40-34.

King immediately came out of the gate on an eight point run of their own, fueled by threes from Fortune and Hewitt. The No. 2 team in the nation accumulated two different sets of six-plus point leads over the course of the second half, each time King responding to draw within a point of the Splitters. Lincoln Memorial began its final breakaway in the win with 4:28 remaining when Justin Allen hit on a jump shot from the left side that started a 9-2 run the Tornado could not recover from in the last minute of play. Allen scored eight of the team's last 12 points en route to the 75-69 score.

Fortune led all Tornado scorers with 20 points in 28 minutes played, hitting 4-of-5 three-point shots and ending shooting 60 percent from the field (6-for-10). He was one of four Tornado players to hit double-digit point totals, followed by freshman Logan Lyle (17), Picinini (12) and Hewitt (10). Lio Gedeon (Marsh Harbor, Bahamas) did his business on the boards with eight rebounds, four offensive, and two points on three shots from the field.

King as a team shot just over 40 percent from the field in the game and shot even better (.448) from beyond the arc, hitting 13 threes. The Tornado continue to improve from last year's free throw shooting marks, now hitting 80 percent or better in their second straight game out of the gate.

With the loss, King falls to 1-1 overall but looks optimistic in how it will play in its upcoming games and in the season's rematch against current No. 2 LMU at home on Dec. 17. They continue their road warrior status playing the next six games away from the Student Center Complex. Next on the docket is Virginia-Wise (Nov. 15) and a two-day stay in Jefferson City, Tenn. to play Tusculum (Nov. 18) and Carson-Newman (Nov. 19).