GAFFNEY, S.C. – In what seemed like an uphill battle all night, the second seeded King University women's basketball team defeated third seed the University of Mount Olive 78-67 in the Conference Carolinas Tournament semifinals. The Tornado trailed for the majority of the contest, but finished the contest on a 12-0 run to take the contest and setup a rematch of last year's Conference Carolinas Tournament championship game with top seed Limestone College.
FINAL SCORE: No. 2 King 78, No. 3 Mount Olive 67
LOCATION: Timken Center; Gaffney, S.C.
RECORDS: King 24-6; Mount Olive 22-7
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Mount Olive started hot, opening the contest on a 15-5 run, including 11 straight to open up a 15-5 advantage in the early going.
- The Trojan lead grew to as many as 11 on three occasions, the last at 23-12 before King cut into their deficit down the stretch.
- Sheen Johnson drilled a triple and later grabbed an offensive rebound. She made a layup and converted the three-point play to cut the King deficit to 25-21.
- However, the Trojans scored the final four points of the quarter to lead 29-21 after one period.
- King opened the second quarter on an 11-0 run to take a 32-29 lead two minutes in.
- Whitney Mitchell made a layup and Sydney Harris followed with a triple to start the spurt.
- Back-to-back layups from Harris and Amy Van Deventer gave King the lead before Van Deventer capped the spurt with a pair of free throws.
- The Tornado held a 34-33 lead before Mount Olive went on a 6-0 run to regain the lead before Kristen Cupples connected on back-to-back three-point baskets, vaulting King back into the lead.
- Mount Olive scored the final bucket of the second quarter to take a 41-40 lead into the break.
- Mount Olive went on a 7-2 run in the middle of the third quarter, including five straight to open up a 55-47 lead.
- However, just as she did in the first half, Cupples came up with two big triples on consecutive possessions to pull King within two.
- On the next possession, Ashley Albertson connected from long range to give King the lead 56-55.
- That lead was short lived, however, Ni'ya Stiles beat the buzzer with a deep triple, giving Mount Olive a 58-56 lead after three quarters.
- The Trojans extended their lead to 62-56 early in the fourth quarter, but seniors Jalan Harper and Harris brought the Tornado back.
- Harper got a steal and fastbreak layup before Harris followed with a jump shot and triple to give King a 63-62 lead.
- Mount Olive later hit a triple to regain the lead at 67-66 when Harris struck again from long range, putting King ahead 69-6 with 3:333 remaining.
- The score remained the same until the final two minutes when Mitchell and Harper made seven free throws and West added a layup to give King the 78-67 win.
- The Tornado held Mount Olive without a point over the final 4:27 as King closed the contest on a 12-0 run.
- King had great production out of their bench, scoring 37 points while the Trojans had zero bench points.
- Mitchell led the way with 15 points, going 9-for-10 from the free throw line. She added five rebounds and four assists.
- Harris followed with 13 points and Harper chipped in with seven points and nine rebounds for the starting unit.
- Off the bench, Cupples posted 12 points, going 4-for-7 from long range and West followed with 10 points.
- Johnson added nine bench points for the Tornado.
FOR THE FOES
- Styles led Mount Olive with 31 points to go along with three rebounds and three assists.
- Daria Simmons added 14 points while Kiara Jones chipped in with eight points and 10 rebounds.
- Felecity Havens added eight points and eight rebounds.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
- The win moves King into the Conference Carolinas Tournament championship game for the second straight year. The Tornado will face familiar foe Limestone who topped King 56-53 in last year's title game in Gaffney.
- This season, the Saints have taken both contest from the Tornado, 79-53 in Gaffney and 58-55 in Bristol.
- King now has 24 wins on the season, matching their most wins since 2003-04. It is also the most wins King has had since joining NCAA Division II.
- The last time King won more than 24 games was in 1990-91 when they went 28-4.
- King will take on top seed and 22nd-ranked Limestone College in the Conference Carolinas Tournament championship on Friday night. Tipoff from the Timken Center in Gaffney, S.C. is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.