King (TN) edges Lees-McRae, 64-62, at Williams Gymnasium Wednesday

BANNER ELK, N.C. – In their final home game of the season, the Lees-McRae College women's basketball team nearly knocked off one of the top three teams in the conference Wednesday at Williams Gymnasium. The Bobcats, now 4-21 overall and 4-15 in league play, were edged by King (TN) University, 64-62, in their 2016-17 home finale.

In the opening 10 minutes, LMC's offense was clicking on all cylinders shooting 63.6 percent from the field and 71.4 percent from beyond the arc. Thanks to the sharp-shooting, the Bobcats were able to build an eight-point advantage on the Tornado after one quarter, 20-12.

King made some defensive adjustments in the second quarter and it was able to climb back into the game. The Tornado, which held LMC to just seven points in the second, took the lead with 4:22 to go in the second and grew their lead to three to close out the half, 30-27.

The Bobcats and Tornado went back and forth in the third with neither team able to gain much of an advantage. All 15 of LMC's points in the frame came from the duo of Breana Hardnett and Markia Stacey. Hardnett scored 10, while Stacey chipped in five. Going into the fourth quarter, King held a slim 44-42 lead.

The Tornado looked like they may run away in the opening minutes of the fourth as they built their lead to six points with just over eight minutes to go. Lees-McRae came back, however, to take the lead in the closing minutes. LMC held the lead with just 1:11 to go in regulation, 58-57, but King scored seven of the next 11 points to close out the 64-62 victory.

Lees-McRae had a pair of players in double figures Wednesday. Hardnett led all scorers with 21 points and Stacey notched 16 points. Brea Forbes paced LMC on the boards with seven rebounds and Anna Hairgroveled the team with three assists.

LMC will return to action Saturday when it travels to North Greenville. The Crusaders defeated LMC 77-61 earlier this season in Banner Elk. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.

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Lees-McRae falls in home finale Wednesday to King (TN), 98-97

BANNER ELK, N.C. – Despite 23-point performances from senior Darius Malbon and junior Jordan Turner, the Lees-McRae College men's basketball team fell in its final home game of the season Wednesday to King (TN) University, 98-97. The Bobcats's record now stands at 8-17 overall and 7-10 in conference with the loss.  

In the opening 20 minutes of the game Wednesday neither team had any issues scoring. LMC knocked down a total of 10 three-pointers in the half, which accounted for over half of its point total in half (54). King, however, drained seven threes of its own and made five more free throws than Lees-McRae. With all the scoring between the two squads, the score was 54-52 going into halftime.

Both Lees-McRae and King had several runs where they held the lead. The back-and-forth battle went right down to the wire as Donte Falls knocked down two free throws with 19 seconds remaining to give the Bobcats a 97-96 lead. King's Noble Fahnbulleh scored the go-ahead basket with eight seconds to go to seal the 98-97 win. The Bobcats had an opportunity to win the game in the closing second but a three-pointer by Turner was just off the mark.

In addition to the performances by Malbon and Turner, Jonathan Honore and Keith Heard II posted stellar outings. Honore dished out nine assists and Heard scored eight points, totaled seven rebounds and blocked a pair of shots.

The Bobcats will close out their regular season with three straight road games. The first being Saturday when LMC travels to North Greenville. Lees-McRae won the first meeting between the two teams, 85-77. If the Bobcats can pick up a win, it will be the second time in three years that they have won the season series against the Crusaders. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m.

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Tar Heels Sweep Wolfpack, 97-73

RALEIGH—Tenth-ranked North Carolina walked into rival North Carolina State's arena and did everything it was supposed to do.

The Tar Heels dominated the paint. They controlled the glass. They shot the ball well and took the crowd out of it early. When it was over, they had rolled to a 97-73 victory Wednesday night that kept them alone in first place atop the Atlantic Coast Conference while further increasing the uncertainty about the future of sixth-year Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried.

It was UNC's first game since losing at rival Duke six days earlier. The Tar Heels (22-5, 10-3) responded by shooting 56 percent and leading by 29 points to blow out the Wolfpack (14-13, 3-11) for the second time in five weeks.

"Like Coach (Roy Williams) always said: we control our destiny," said Joel Berry II, who scored 18 points. "And if we want to be the top team at the end of the season, it's all on us. I think everyone on this team realizes that and that's why we had such great practices coming into this game."

The Tar Heels finished with a 60-22 edge in points in the paint, a 41-25 rebounding advantage and 27 second-chance points — a strong follow to last month's 107-56 win against the Wolfpack that stood as the second-worst loss in N.C. State's history.

"We knew it was going to be a battle," said Theo Pinson, who had 12 points on 6-for-8 shooting while starting for injured Kenny Williams. "I'm glad we punched them in the mouth early and just kept it going."

Freshman Dennis Smith Jr. scored 27 points but little else went right for the Wolfpack (14-13, 3-11), who continued their accelerating descent that had Gottfried greeted by a smattering of boos during pregame introductions.

Picked to finish sixth in the 15-team league, the Wolfpack sits ahead of just one team in the standings with four regular-season games left. And since earning its first win at Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium since 1995, N.C. State has lost six straight games — four coming by at least 24 points.



UNC: The Tar Heels have won 21 of 23 meetings against N.C. State, and dominated this one despite playing without Williams (right knee) while Isaiah Hicks played just 7 minutes due to foul trouble.

N.C. State: The season that started with potential has crashed. N.C. State followed Saturday's 30-point loss at bubble team Wake Forest with another performance filled with bad defense, enough that the Tar Heels had emptied their bench with the team up 93-64 with 2 minutes left — and a chant of "Tar! Heels!" coming from a section of red seats upstairs.


It marked the first time the Tar Heels had beaten the Wolfpack by at least 20 points in each regular-season meeting since the 1992-93 season. The 24-point margin also matched UNC's largest against the Wolfpack in PNC Arena.


Williams, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, could be out the rest of the season after suffering the knee injury in Tuesday's practice. Roy Williams said the guard would have surgery next week for a procedure with a typical recovery time of 4-6 weeks.


Luke Maye finished with a career-high 13 points off the bench for the Tar Heels with Hicks battling foul trouble, including a play when he pump-faked Omer Yurtseven from 3-point range and drove untouched for a dunk against a defense that rotated no one over.


UNC: The Tar Heels have a big ACC game Saturday at home against No. 14 Virginia.

N.C. State: N.C. State hosts No. 25 Notre Dame on Saturday.


Tatum Takes Over in 2nd Half as Duke Tops UVA 65-55

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Mike Krzyzewski took a unique approach to coaching after No. 12 Duke went into halftime trailing No. 14 Virginia 25-21.

It might best be described as getting out of the way.

Moving away from called offensive plays and to a system that highlights the Blue Devils' individual abilities, Krzyzewski's shrewd move freed up freshman Jayson Tatum for a spectacular second half, and he led Duke to its sixth consecutive victory, 65-55, on Wednesday night.

"We were just trying to move the ball and give them the opportunity to be basketball players, which they are," Krzyzewski said.

None benefited more than Tatum, who scored 21 of his 28 points after halftime, and three times made 3-pointers with the shot clock racing toward 0:00. All three of the clock-beating shots came after Virginia had pulled within 43-42 with 8:33 left. The last made it 54-44.

"That was a big-time performance," Krzyzewski said, laughing. "I mean, jiminy Christmas. It's why we won for crying out loud."

Luke Kennard added 16 points for the Blue Devils (21-5, 9-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), who are tied for second in the league with Florida State and Louisville. All three are a game behind No. 10 North Carolina, which beat North Carolina State 97-73 earlier Wednesday.

Tatum came into the game just 19 for 60 from beyond the arc, but was 6 for 7 against the Cavaliers and 8 for 12 overall.

London Perrantes scored 14 points to lead Virginia (18-7, 8-5) and Ty Jerome had 13.

The loss was Virginia's fourth in six games. In all four games, the opponent shot 50 percent or better after halftime.

Virginia trailed 43-37 before Perrantes made two free throws and Kyle Guy had a 3-pointer, making it 43-42 with 8:33remaining. But Tatum hit the first of his three clock-beating 3-pointers, Kennard scored in the lane and two more 3s for Tatum put Duke ahead 54-44.

"Every time we needed a stop, they put a dagger in us with a late shot clock or a deep 3," coach Tony Bennett said.

Duke: Other than exceptional 3-point field goal defense, the Blue Devils aren't known much for their ability to stop others, but they have the pieces to make things very tough. Virginia often had trouble getting inside, and once there, navigating around the Blue Devils big men.

"Matt's been like the key guy for us," Krzyzewski said of senior Matt Jones, who always guards the other team's best player.

"They really guarded us hard," Bennett said. "It was one of those games where you had to work to get catches."

Virginia: The Cavaliers' lack of a reliable inside scorer hurts more some nights than others, and even more so when attempts to feed the ball inside often result in turnovers. Effective outside shooting often opens up the inside, but Virginia shot poorly against the Blue Devils (21 of 57, 36.8 percent).

"We have some limitations in some areas, but we're fighting like crazy," Bennett said.

Duke is at home against Wake Forest on Saturday.

Virginia travels to Chapel Hill to face No. 10 North Carolina on Saturday night.


Photo Courtesy: Jayson Tatum, Duke Athletics