MISENHEIMER, N.C. – King College had control of their final road contest for nearly 29 of the game's 40 minutes, but the Falcons of Pfeiffer University rallied to erase a 10-point lead in the final 11 minutes and hold off the Tornado, 89-85, Saturday night.
King (21-6, 13-2) led by as many as 18 points heading into the final minute of the first half but saw the lead disintegrate to nine points after the first two possessions of the second half. Eddie Piccinini (Orlando, Fla.) knocked down back-to-back three pointers to help build the lead back to 12 points, 60-48, but near the 11:30 mark Pfeiffer made its break to take their first lead since the game's opening minutes.
The Falcons (12-12, 6-8) drew within two points of the Tornado with 6:48 to go after a pair of Reggie Hollinger free throws, but Piccinini continued to rain threes from all over the court and helped push the King lead back to five points on the next drive, 75-70. Pfeiffer finally tied the game and retook the lead two minutes later on a pair of Tayron Gibson free throws after being fouled while in the double bonus.
Piccinini hit his seventh three of the night to temporarily retake the lead, 80-78, but in the last 2:22 the Falcons went on an 11-5 run to close out the game. Brian Hewitt (Lexington, Ky.) hit a three pointer with 27 seconds left on the clock to tie the game at 85, but on their last possession the Falcons' Daniel Kuhn hit a jumper with three seconds remaining, delivering the Tornado their second conference loss by an 89-85 final score.
Piccinini led the Tornado with 27 points, hitting seven of his eight makes from behind the arc. He finished 7-for-10 from three-point range and added four assists. Hewitt was back in form, hitting 3-of-6 from distance and 6-of-11 from the field en route to an 18-point night. Logan Lyle (Unicoi, Tenn.) and Brandon Goss (St. Louis, Mo.) each scored in double figures, posting 12 and 10 points, respectively. Lio Gedeon (Marsh Harbor, Bahamas) tallied 10 rebounds.
King now has a firm hold on the No. 2 overall seed in Conference Carolinas heading into the final game of the 2011-12 season. They are the top-seed in the West Division after clinching nearly two weeks ago with a win at home over Belmont Abbey (Feb. 8).
The Tornado will host Erskine College on Friday, Feb. 24, at the Student Center Complex for Senior Night. The action will begin at 5:30 p.m. when the Lady Tornado open action against the Flying Fleet. The Tornado will take the court at 7:30 p.m., tentatively.