Second Half Surge Leads to Victory Over Carson-Newman
Carson-Newman held a three-point edge over the Tornado coming into the second half but momentum quickly swung back into the Navy and Scarlett's possession, completing a 13-point turnaround within the first five minutes of play out of the locker room.
King (4-1) began the half on a 10-2 run, taking back a lead they would not relinquish. Consecutive three-point makes by Michael Fortune (Beckley, W.Va.) and Eddie Piccinini (Orlando, Fla.) in the first 90 seconds gave the Tornado a 40-38 lead before Fortune was fouled on a three-ball attempt. After hitting all three free throws, King began to separate from the Eagles permanently.
The Eagles brought the game back within two points, but a second run by the Tornado padded their lead for good. King went on a 10-0 run to extend their lead to 53-41 near the 15-minute mark of the second half. Fortune scored 11 of his 16 total points during King's two late runs.
The Tornado once led by as many as 17 points. With less than 10 minutes to go, freshman Logan Lyle (Unicoi, Tenn.) blocked a shot by C-N's Jared Johnson and turned it up the court to hit a three soon after. Less than a minute later, Lyle tallied one of his team-best seven rebounds and hit another three off of a pass from senior Brent Thomas (Elizabethton, Tenn.). Carson-Newman halved that lead, but when the final horn sounded the Tornado came out victorious, 79-71.
As a team King hit 18 three pointers, one short of tying the school record (19) set on Feb. 6, 2010 against Virginia Intermont. From the field, the Tornado hit 39.7 percent of their attempts (25-for-63).
"The way they (Carson-Newman) were playing us our guys did a good job of getting open, executing and making shots, especially in the second half," said Head Coach George Pitts. "We played well on both ends of the floor with good defense and rebounding. We definitely played the most solid half of basketball this year in the second half."
Despite Carson-Newman hitting 43 percent of their shots from the field, the Eagles were held to only 33 percent (7-for-21) from three-point land. King forced 13 Eagle turnovers and out rebounded C-N, 37-35.
Lyle and Fortune combined for 30 of King's 79 points on 10-of-22 shooting. Fortune shot 4-for-10 (.400) from the field and nailed all five of his free throw attempts, adding a pair of assists and steals to his line. Lyle shot 50 percent on 6-of-12 from the field and 4-of-7 from distance. He also notched a pair of blocks and finished with 16 points against the Eagles.
Senior captain Eddie Piccinini led the team with 18 points and was one of four players in double figures on Saturday. He also led the team with five assists and was one of four with a pair of steals.
The win marked the second time already this season that King has defeated Carson-Newman (2-2). They defeated the Eagles at Lincoln Memorial University during the SAC/Conference Carolinas Challenge in their season opener on Nov. 11, 79-75. King has delivered both of Carson-Newman's losses this season. The Eagles are now 1-2 against Conference Carolinas opponents through four games with two more to play against the league in Belmont Abbey (Nov. 22) and Lees-McRae (Dec. 10).
"I feel good that we are 4-1 so far, especially since the loss was against a very good LMU team," said Pitts. "I am very satisfied, especially for being 4-1 playing on the road. We're playing a lot of freshman and they are getting a lot of experience for us."
With the win, King wins its third straight and improves to 4-1 on the year. They will embark on their third straight weekend tournament at Bluefield, W.Va. when the Tornado play Mountain State and Bluefield State at the Currence Classic, Nov. 25-26.
King will open on Nov. 25 against Mountain State (6:00 p.m.), who is ranked No. 2 in NAIA Division I. MSU has lost its last three games after winning its first four, falling last to top-ranked Pikeville (Ky.) in a rematch of last year's NAIA national championship game. King will follow with the Big Blues the following evening with an 8:00 p.m. tipoff.