BANNER ELK, N.C. --- Jordan Floyd recorded 34 points to lead the King University men's basketball team to a 101-94 win over Tusculum Friday night in the opening game of the 2017 South Atlantic Conference / Conference Carolinas Challenge at Williams Gymnasium on the campus of Lees-McRae College.
Floyd went 9-of-18 from the field, including 5-of-7 from three-point territory and 11-of-12 at the free throw line. He scored 23 of his 34 points in the first 20 minutes as he went 8-of-9 in the first 20 minutes while going 5-of-5 from beyond the arc in the half.
The Pioneers (0-1) placed six players in double figure scoring, led by senior guard Ronnie Baylark, who poured in 20 points off the bench, going 7-of-10 from the floor, including 3-of-5 from beyond the arc and 3-of-3 from the charity stripe.
First-year Tusculum skipper Nick Pasqua was making his collegiate head coach debut on Friday against his alma mater and the team he coached at for the past nine years.
The Tornado (1-0) led wire-to-wire as the shot a blistering 14-of-27 from three-point land for 52 percent and went 27-of-41 from the free three line for 66 percent, including 23-of-32 in the second half alone (72%).
Tusculum finished the night shooting 45 percent while knocking down a dozen 3-pointers, going 12-of-33 from downtown (36.4%).
Four TC starters worked their way into double figures as Caleb Hodnett had 13 points and a team-high eight rebounds, while the trio of Brandon Mitchell, Donovan Donaldson and Peyton Woods each tallied a dozen markers for the Pioneers. Zach Hartle added 11 points and seven rebounds off the bench.
For King, Mike Solomon posted 19 points going 6-of-8 from the field, 4-of-5 from three-point land and grabbed six boards. Timothy Taylor added 14 points, while Mack Owens finished with a dozen points.
The Tornado opened the game on a 14-6 run in the opening 4:43 including a pair of Solomon three-pointers. Tusculum answered with two Hartle three-pointers to cut the deficit to 14-12 with 14:40 left in the half.
King followed with eight straight points to extend the lead to 22-12 thanks to seven consecutive points from Floyd. TC cut in into the KU lead five 5-0 run from Hodnett, before King responded with a 19-5 spurt to take its largest lead of the evening at 41-22 with 6:55 left.
Tusculum would dig into the deficit with a 10-0 run which was sparked by a Hunter Parrish trey to trail 45-39 with 2:10 left before intermission. King would close out the half with a 5-2 run to take a 50-41 lead into the locker room.
In the second half, King moved out to a 55-41 lead to start the period, but Tusculum answered with a 13-5 spark to trail in single-digits again at 60-54 with 15:21 left on the scoreboard.
The Tornado scored 12 unanswered points to up their advantage to 74-56 with 12 minutes to go. King maintained the double-digit lead for most of the second half and led 94-78 with 2:16 remaining.
The Pioneers tried to put together a comeback for the ages as TC went on a 13-2 run, including nine straight points as the Tusculum trailed 96-91 with 38 seconds to go. Floyd went 3-for-4 from the free throw line down the stretch to lead 99-91 with 21 seconds left. Woods came down the floor and buried a three-pointer to cut the deficit back to five at 99-94 with 13 seconds to go. But Solomon closed it out with a pair of free throws to provide the final margin of victory.
Tusculum won the rebounding battle by a 47-36 margin, including 18 offensive boards resulting into 25 second chance points for the Pioneers. TC outscored King 28-22 in the paint and held a 41-13 advantage in bench scoring.
Tusculum returns to action Saturday night when they take on host Lees-McRae for a 6 p.m. contest in the final game of the SAC / Conference Carolinas Challenge.
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