After stumbling through a sloppy first half and enduring an unexpected shooting night from a feisty opponent, Augusta State coach Nate Teymer could only breathe a sigh of relief.
The box score he held in his hand said his Lady Jaguars beat rival Paine 66-61, but the look on his face indicated there was still much work to be done.
“We’ll take it,” he said. “I’d rather learn stuff from winning than losing.”
The Lady Jaguars survived a late scare from a hot-shooting Paine team in the season opener for both squads at Christenberry Fieldhouse. The Lady Lions used a 9 for 13 performance from the 3-point line to climb within three points with 2 minutes left.
But junior transfer Brittany White converted on a 3-point play and later hit both ends of a 1-and-1 to kill the rally and give Augusta State the win.
“Paine threw some punches, and we were able to take some of those,” Teymer said. “I think the potential is there for us. We showed glimpses of it tonight.”
The glimpses, though, came between stretches of turnovers. The teams combined for 39 turnovers – 27 in the first half.
Roster overhauls might have contributed to the sloppy play as the teams struggled to find chemistry with several new faces. Four Augusta State starters made their debut after transferring this off-season. Paine started two sophomores and a freshman; two other freshmen each played at least 22 minutes.
“We’ve got nine new players,” Paine coach Willie Adams said. “They just have to learn to jell together.”
Augusta State settled down in the second half with help from junior transfer Laci Schreiber, who posted a double-double despite battling first-game nerves and a head cold.
“I was really nervous and excited at the same time. It was a pretty big crowd compared to what I’m used to,” she said. “My goal was to play hard. I didn’t know what to expect, because I’m a little sick right now.”
The 6-foot-1 forward, who played junior college ball in Kansas City last season, grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds and added 15 points. After a surge of Paine 3-pointers in the second half gave it a 47-46 lead with 8:30 to play, Schreiber scored seven points during a 12-3 run.
Paine freshman Ciarra Morris, a Laney product, came off the bench to give the Lady Lions 12 points and nine rebounds. Junior guard Ariel Brown led the squad with 15 points.
Paine’s two starting forwards, senior Brittany Pevey and Hephzibah’s BreAsia Burns, combined for only two points.
“We’ve got to get somebody on the block who’s going to produce for us,” Adams said. “We get the ball inside and step away from the basket.”