BRISTOL, Tenn. – King went 29-for-32 from the free throw line in the second half and defeated Conference Carolinas leader and No. 12 Barton College, 94-88, Saturday night at the Student Center Complex. All of King's starters scored in double figures, led by sophomore Logan Lyle's 22 points.
Lyle, a native of Unicoi, Tenn., led the Tornado with 22 points, which included 3 three-pointers as part of shooting 5-for-11 from the field. Lyle also made all nine of his free throw attempts and had seven rebounds.
King (14-5, 9-4 Conference Carolinas) led 24-22 midway through the first half, but went on an 11-4 run to take a 35-26 lead. Lyle made a layup right at the end of the half to push the lead back to nine at 42-33.
Barton (14-4, 9-3) came out strong in the second half and eventually took their first lead since 2-0 on the second of two free throws by Gerald Boston to make the score 61-60 Bulldogs with 11:29 left. Boston led Barton with 19 points.
With the score tied at 65, King took the lead for good on a free throw by freshman Malcolm St. Louis (Lebanon, Tenn.). Lyle then drained a three to give King a 69-65 lead. A layup by Barton's Aaron Brown closed the lead to three with 7:03 left, but senior Eddie Piccinini (Orlando, Fla.) responded with King's final field goal with 6:52 left to increase its lead to five points, 78-73.
After the teams traded points over the next several minutes, Chris Flemmings' jumper closed the gap for Barton to 86-82 with 1:36 left. However, the Bulldogs would never get closer as Piccinini made two clutch free throws with 54 seconds to go to push the lead back up to 6. Junior Michael Fortune (Beckley, W. Va.) scored the final 6 points for King at the line in the last minute.
King withstood Barton's multiple attempts to rally by draining their last 16 free throws in the final 6:04 of the game. Their 45 total free throws made broke a school record set against Life University on Feb. 10, 2011 when King made 44. The Tornado shot 45-for-54 (83.3%) at the charity stripe for the night.
Piccinini scored 17 points and made 10-of-11 from the line. Fortune added 16 and made all 10 of his free throw attempts. Senior Jason Seymore (Powell, Tenn.) had 14 points and was one rebound away from his ninth double-double of the season. St. Louis added 11 points and eight rebounds and was a strong presence down low all night for the Tornado. King starters scored 80 of the 94 total points for the night.
Barton also had five players who scored in double figures. Chris Flemmings scored 16 points for the Bulldogs. Brian McNair came off the bench to score 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting. Jon Hart tallied 13 points and Brown added 10 for the Bulldogs, who lost their second-straight game following a 80-75 loss to Mount Olive on Jan. 31.
With the win, King kept pace with Limestone and now sits at 9-4 which is tied for second-best in the conference. Barton's 9-3 conference record remains tops in the conference by a half-game. In the event of a tie with Barton, the Tornado now hold the tiebreaker over Barton with two victories over the Bulldogs this season. King and Limestone will meet one more time this season on Feb. 20 in Gaffney, S.C.
King also defeated Barton on the road on Jan. 3, 97-72, when the Bulldogs were ranked 15th in the NABC Top-25 Coaches' Poll. In that game, King set school records in field goal shooting percentage (70.6) and three-point shooting percentage (75.0) while Jason Seymore went a perfect 10-for-10 from the field and led the team with 24 points.
The Tornado will be back in action Wednesday, Feb. 6, in the Student Center Complex against Erskine College. The men will follow the women's game with a tentative start time set for 7:30 p.m. That day will mark King's annual Solid Blue celebration that will take place over the course of both games. An array of activities and giveaways will take place, including free Solid Blue 2013 t-shirts (while supplies last).