TIGERVILLE, S.C. – Holding on to a four-point lead at halftime, the North Greenville Crusaders built upon its lead early in the second half and held on to deliver King its fifth loss of the season, 63-55. Eddie Piccinini's team-high 17 points were not enough to overcome the Crusaders in Wednesday night's defeat.
After falling behind 26-22 at the half, increased its lead to 10 by hitting field goals in four straight possessions. Chris Dean connected on a pair of jumpers near the 18-minute mark followed by Phillip Brown twice helping the Crusaders hit 10-point leads. North Greenville held on to a double-digit lead until the midway point of the half before the Tornado created a five-point swing to make for a two-basket game with 5:58 to go, 53-48. Michael Fortune's three pointer put King in a position to make a run for the lead.
Both teams were held scoreless for over two minutes and missed a combined five shots, four from behind the arc. Freshman Malcolm St. Louis (Lebanon, Tenn.) helped in the defensive effort with his lone block of the game to keep it a five-point affair but North Greenville's Keith Johnson three with 3:44 remaining helped generate momentum for the hosts.
After a pair of technical were split between both sides, Jason Seymore had an opportunity to turn the game into two-possession game after being fouled and sent to the free-throw line for a one-and-one opportunity but the senior missed the first shot with North Greenville's Tyshawn Patterson coming down with the defensive rebound and the hosts holding on to a 58-50 lead.
Patterson turned the ball over nine seconds later, giving King another chance for a late comeback. Eddie Piccinini and Michael Fortune both missed on three-point attempts before Seymore pulled down the the third straight offensive rebound and recorded the putback to create a six-point game, 58-52, with 1:05 to go.
King began to foul to create extra possessions and was given another chance to cut into the lead after Tyshawn Patterson split a pair of free throws to make for a seven-point game, 59-52. Piccinini came back down the length of the floor and missed his next three ball and had his next mid-range blocked by Chris Dean. The defensive stand gave the ball back to NGU and turned the final 46 seconds into a free throw battle where Tyshawn Patterson hit the team's last four free-throw attempts to put the game out of reach, 63-55.
Piccinini led the Tornado with 17 points on 5-of-13 shooting from the floor. He also added two rebounds and a steal.
Jason Seymore (Powell, Tenn.) was the only other double-digit scorer for King, finishing with 11 points. He recorded 12 rebounds, good for his eighth double-double of the season. He added two blocks on the defensive side, as well.
Freshman Malcolm St. Louis had 10 rebounds on the night, including five on the offensive side, to accompany his six points.
North Greenville had four players with 10 or more points on the night, led by Patterson's game-high 21. Nine of those 21 points came from the charity stripe. He was one of four players that also had at least seven rebounds in the game. Keith Johnson notched a double-double, finishing with 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Crusaders.
King (13-5, 8-4 Conference Carolinas) will play the first of two home games on Saturday, Feb. 2 when they host Barton College at 5:30 p.m. inside the Student Center Complex. They will follow by hosting Erskine College (Feb. 6) as part of the Solid Blue celebration on campus.