Free throws lead King to win at Tusculum

Photo taken by Rachel Burrus.

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. – The King University women's basketball team took to the road to face nonconference rival Tusculum College. The Tornado used a run late in the first half to gain control of the game, fended off a late Tusculum rally and converted their free throws to take the contest 73-65.

Both teams started slow from the field as King (7-2) held a slim 11-9 lead eight minutes into the frame before Kelly Jackson drilled a three-point basket to give King a five point lead. The Pioneers (0-9) then came back and got within one at 22-21 before the Tornado went on a run to close the half.

Chelsea Bowling started the spurt with a pair of free throws and Bonnie Durrett followed her miss and converted a layup to stretch King's lead back to five points on the next possession. The Tornado lead then grew to seven when Stephanie Brantley took a pass from Jackson and converted a layup with 2:20 left.

Chelsea Bowling drilled a three-point basket, Durrett made a pair from the charity stripe to stretch King's lead to 35-23, their largest of the first half. However, Tusculum's Blakeley Burleson connected on a three-point basket with four seconds left to make the halftime score 35-26 in favor of King.

The Pioneers quickly opened the second half with five straight points to cut their deficit to six points, but the Tornado had an answer. Bowling drilled a three-point basket, and Jalan Harper followed with a jump shot to extend the lead back to double digits. Tia Keitt capped the 8-0 King spurt with a layup just over five minutes into the half to give King a 45-31 lead. The Tornado advantage grew to 49-34 following a Bowling layup before Tusculum began to chip away at their deficit.

The Pioneers scored six straight points to cut the Tornado lead to single digits, and cut the deficit to 51-44 with 9:17 left. The Pioneers cut the deficit to seven points again twice more and got within five points at 57-52 with 4:08 left. However, Whitney Mitchell made a pair of free throws to extend the lead back to seven. After a Bowling free throw, Durrett grabbed an offensive rebound, and converted the layup to extend King's lead back to 10 at 62-52 with three minutes remaining.

However, the Pioneers wouldn't go away as they scored seven of the next nine points, the final two on an offensive rebound and put back with just over a minute to go, cutting the King lead to 64-59. At that point, the Tornado sealed the victory at the charity stripe, going 9-for-10 from the charity stripe over the final minute to seal the 73-65 victory.

The Tornado shot 37.3 percent from the floor and 23.1 percent from long range, but King made 78.8 percent of their free throws, going 26-for-33 from the stripe. King held Tusculum to 35.6 percent from the field and 25.0 percent from three-point range.

Bowling led King with 15 points, going 5-for-6 from the free throw line, and 2-for-3 from three-point range. Jackson followed with 10 points and nine rebounds while Durrett posted team-highs of 11 rebounds and three assists to go along with 11 points. Brantley also chipped in with eight point and eight rebounds.

King will return home on Saturday when they host Mars Hill University at the Student Center Complex. It is also Church Night as fans that bring a bulletin will receive free admission to the doubleheader. Tipoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.