BRISTOL, Tenn. – Winning conference games is never easy, especially when teams see opponents for the second time late in the season. The King University men's basketball still had a chance to take a share of the Conference Carolinas regular season title, but Pfeiffer University may have derailed those aspirations on Saturday at the Student Center Complex. The Falcons topped the Tornado 72-69, dropping King to third in the league standings with one game to play.
In front nearly a sellout crowd, Pfeiffer (6-19, 4-10 CC) closed the first half on a 13-3 to take a 34-30 lead at the break. The Falcons didn't slow up in the second half as they quickly extended their lead to 11 points before the Tornado tried to comeback.
Trailing 49-39 with 15 minutes left, Hunter LeVeau made a jump shot and Scottie Hendricks drained a triple on King's next possession to pull the Tornado within 49-44 with 14 minutes. Michael Fortune cut the deficit to three with a layup before the Falcons' Mark Goods ended the spurt with a layup.
Brandon Crompton answered with a layup, and LeVeau pulled King (13-12, 10-5 CC) within one with 12 minutes left. However, Pfeiffer answered with an 11-2 run to regain a 10 point advantage before the Tornado made another push.
Crompton got the King offense going with a bucket, and Fortune drained a triple to get the Student Center crowd on their feet. Drew Standifer later made a pair of free throws to pull King within 63-61 with just under five minutes left. The Tornado trailed by two when Fortune found LeVeau on the fastbreak. LeVeau fired from 23 feet, and his shot hit nothing but nylon to give King their first lead of the second half at 66-65 with two minutes left.
However, the Tornado fouled a three-point shooter, who made a three free throw to give the lead back to Pfeiffer. The Falcons led 70-66 before LeVeau connected again from long range to pull King within 70-69 with 18 seconds left. Pfeiffer made a pair of free throws to extend their lead to three before they got a steal on King's final possession to seal the 72-69 win.
The Tornado jumped ahead early in the first half, and extend their lead to 23-13 following a Logan Lyle three-point basket midway through the first half. At that point, the Falcons started to work their way back before closing the first half on a run to take the lead.
LeVeau led King with 20 points and nine rebounds while Crompton added 12 points. Fortune dished out eight assists to go along with nine points.
King shot 37.7 percent from the floor and 29.4 percent from three while Pfeiffer shot 42.1 percent from the floor and 21.1 percent from three.
With the loss, King falls to 10-5 in league play, and third place in the standings with one game to play. The Tornado wrap up regular season play on Tuesday at North Greenville University. With a win, King will clinch a home conference tournament game on March 1. Tipoff from Tigerville, S.C. is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.