GAFFNEY, S.C. – In what was reminiscent of a heavyweight title bout, the King University women's basketball team went toe-to-toe with 22nd-ranked Limestone College in the Conference Carolinas Tournament championship for the second straight season. The script for the 2016-17 season had a different ending as Whitney Mitchell made a free throw with 6.2 seconds remaining to give King the 78-77 victory and King their first Conference Carolinas title and NCAA Tournament berth.
FINAL SCORE: No. 2 King 78, #22/No. 1 Limestone 77
LOCATION: Timken Center; Gaffney, S.C.
RECORDS: King 25-6; Limestone 27-4
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Trailing 6-5, Jalan Harper tried to get the offense going with an old fashioned three-point play to put the Tornado back ahead.
- Sheena Johnson later connected on a three-point basket and a Kori West free throw gave King a 12-6 advantage.
- Sydney Harris connected from long range, and a pair of Amy Van Deventer free throws gave King their largest lead of the quarter at 17-9.
- However, the Saints scored the final five points of the period, including a triple to beat the buzzer, but King led 17-14 after the first quarter.
- Limestone scored the first two points of the second quarter, cutting their deficit to 17-16, but Ashley Albertson answered a layup and jump shot.
- Harper connected on a triple, giving King a 24-16 lead before Limestone went on another run.
- Nevertheless, Limestone responded with 10 straight points to take a 26-24 advantage before the teams started trading buckets.
- The Saints gained some separation with a 5-0 run, and led 39-32 before Albertson collected an offensive rebound and made a layup to beat the buzzer, making the halftime score 39-34 at the half.
- Limestone hit a triple early in the third quarter to open up a 42-35 lead, the largest second half lead for either team.
- Mitchell and Albertson answered for King, pulling the Tornado back within 42-40.
- King scored the final four points of the third period to cut their deficit to 56-55.
- The Saints got the crowd behind them early in the fourth quarter, scoring seven straight points to turn a one point deficit into a 63-57.
- However, the Tornado had an answer with West. Following a Mitchell free throw, West sank a pair from the charity stripe and Amy Van Deventer pulled King within one with a layup.
- West put King ahead 64-63 with a layup with 5:37 remaining.
- West later broke a 64-64 tie with a bucket and Harris followed with one of her three trifectas in the contest to give King a 69-64 lead with four minutes remaining.
- King held a 74-69 lead following another West bucket before the Saints scored six of the next seven points, including a pair of three-point baskets to even the score at 75-all with 46 seconds remaining.
- With 15.8 seconds remaining, Mitchell drilled two free throws to put King ahead, but Limestone answered with a layup from Jasmine Kearse to even the score.
- Mitchell was fouled again with 6.2 seconds remaining, this time she made one-of-two from the line, putting King ahead.
- Limestone rushed the length of the floor and Kearse missed a jump shot from the middle of the lane as time expired, giving King the 78-77 victory.
- Albertson led five King scorers in double figures with 18 points. West followed with 14 points, 11 coming in the fourth quarter.
- Harper added 13 points and nine rebounds while Mitchell and Harris accounted for 11 points each.
FOR THE FOES
- Keidra Smith led Limestone with 25 points and six rebounds.
- Kearse added 21 points, six rebounds and seven assists.
- Jasmine Richardson scored 13 points and Taylour Hunter chipped in with 10 points.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
- The win is King's first-ever win over an NCAA ranked opponent. It is also their first win over Limestone as the Tornado were 0-16 entering the contest.
- King wins their first Conference Carolinas Tournament championship and in the process earns their first berth into the NCAA Division II Women's Basketball Championship.
- The NCAA Southeast Regional will start on Friday. The tournament field will be announced on Sunday night.
- The 25 wins for King is their most since winning 28 games in 1990-91, and their most since becoming NCAA Division II members.
- King has now won nine straight games, matching their longest streak since becoming NCAA Division II members. The other nine-game winning streak came in 2014-15.
- King placed five scores in double figures for the sixth time this season and third time in the last four games.
- The win for head coach Josh Thompson was his 100th win at King.
- Albertson and Harper were named to the All-Tournament Team and Mitchell was named the Most Outstanding Player.
- Albertson game within two of her career-high of 20 points. She scored those 20 points in the Conference Carolinas Tournament semifinal one year ago to the date against Mount Olive.
- West came within one of her career-high of 15 points.
- The win snapped Limestone's 11-game conference tournament winning streak, their last loss came in the semifinals in 2012-13.
- King will be in action on Friday at the NCAA Southeast Regional next weekend. The tournament selection will be live on NCAA.com on Sunday night at 10:00 p.m.