DUE WEST, S.C. – Junior Michael Fortune led the Tornado with 29 points on a remarkable shooting night. He was one of two King College players with 20 or more points with a third close behind in the team's 80-79 road win against Erskine College, Tuesday night.
After King jumped out with a 13-5 run to take an eight point lead at the start of the second half, Erskine rebounded by hitting a trio of three-pointers in their next four trips down the court, cutting the lead to one point, 64-63. After tying the game at 68 with a jumper by the Fleet's Deshaun Hall, the tide turned in a seven-point swing in favor of the hosts. A three pointer from Filip Pejovic gave Erskine a 73-68 lead but as King proved in their most recent victory over Barton College, never count them out even if they may be down.
Freshman Logan Lyle (Unicoi, Tenn.) scored the next five King points, hitting a three just short of the six-minute mark and following up with a jumper in the paint to cut the lead to a single point with 4:54 remaining. Fortune followed up with a trey, responding to Erskine guard Mike Gabbard's three pointer, to keep King within one but got the Tornado over the hump on the next possession.
Following Fortune's three-point make, Corey Sorrell missed on his jump shot and Lio Gedeon came down with one of his 13 rebounds to set up the next King possession. Coming out of a timeout, Fortune gave the Tornado the lead hitting a two pointer with 3:06 remaining. After Gabbard fouled Fortune on King's next trip down the floor, Fortune split the pair of free throws to keep the lead at one, 80-79.
For the next 2:11, neither team scored a basket of any kind as defense took over the final two minutes. Erskine missed its final two field goal tries and failed to take advantage of a one-and-one chance with 10 seconds remaining. After Hewitt committed the team's seventh foul of the half, Corey Sorrell went to the line for a chance to tie the game. Sorrell missed his first attempt and Fortune came down with the rebound to seal the win for King.
On a night that junior guard Eddie Piccinini (Orlando, Fla.) was sidelined with the flu, the junior from Beckley, W.Va. stepped up in a big way to lead the Tornado to victory. Fortune scored 29 points, shooting better than 65 percent from the field (10-16) and hitting seven three-point shots on 12 attempts (.583). He added four assists and a pair of steals to complete his night.
King (16-3, 8-0) and Erskine played to a 45-45 halftime tie with both teams shooting at or near 50 percent as a team. Brian Hewitt (Lexington, Ky.) was lights out from distance in the first half, scoring 15- of his 18 first-half points from behind the arc on 5-of-8 shooting. Hewitt finished with 22 points, his second game with 20 or more and fourth in his last five games.
Lio Gedeon (Marsh Harbor, Bahamas) continued to rack up rebounds, marking his third straight game with 10 or more boards. It is the fifth time he has hit that mark this season.
Logan Lyle ended the night with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field and hit half of his eight three-point attempts on the night. Of the team's 80 points, 74 were scored by four of its starters.
Erskine featured four double-digit scorers and was led by Corey Sorrell's 23 points and six rebounds. Deshaun Hall and Travis Liner each scored 15 points while Mike Gabbard scored 11 points.
The Tornado extend their winning streak to eight games and remain a perfect 8-0 in Conference Carolinas play. They return to the Student Center Complex for a rematch of their first-ever Conference Carolinas game played against Limestone as the College celebrates Solid Blue this Thursday night (Jan. 26). The women will begin play against the Saints at 5:30 p.m. with the men to follow.
Free giveaways will be given while they last to those in attendance for Solid Blue. Gifts include Tornado wrist bands, Solid Blue t-shirts, rally towels and special headdresses for those wild enough to wear them. Special contests will take place during both games allowing fans their chance at an array of prizes, including a chance to win a new iPod Nano.