After Saturday’s men’s basketball game, Mario Jordan stuck his hand on the women’s restroom door but quickly realized it wasn’t the locker room.
The Paine senior guard who started his career at Carter Gym found himself at home in the school’s new facility – even if he still needed to figure out the finer details of the building.
“I’ve been waiting on this since I got here,” Jordan said. “I really appreciate this. It felt real good to come in here today and play.
“It’s got bright lights, and it gets cold in the gym. It didn’t get too cold in Carter Gym.”
Kenny Fluellen was warm from the start, scoring the first basket for the men in the HEAL Complex en route to a season-high 27 points as Paine knocked off Stillman, 96-90.
Fluellen scored 10 of his team’s first 16 points, finishing with a 9-for-16 shooting effort, including five 3-pointers.
“It just kind of happened,” he said. “It came to me early, and I just ran with it.”
Paine (3-6, 1-1) posted a season high in points, snapping a four-game losing streak. Two days after dropping their conference opener to Tuskegee, the Lions defeated a Stillman squad (5-5, 1-1) picked to win the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference West Division.
In front of a large crowd, Paine shot 58 percent from the field and out-rebounded Stillman, 49-34. Jerel Stephenson chipped in with 18 points and nine rebounds, while Darius Smith added 12 points and Jordan 11.
“It was electric,” Stephenson said. “We had a ton of energy after coming out flat against Tuskegee.”
Paine coach Jimmy Link added: “That was a totally different team than two days ago. If you can’t get up for a game like this in a new facility, then there’s something wrong. They really came out to play.”
Stillman opened the contest with a charging violation.
On the inbounds play, Paine ran “Jaguar,” a play Augusta State has made its own in recent years. Fluellen broke free down the middle of the court, hauling in the inbound pass from Stephenson for a fast-break layup to open the men’s scoring.
“I was happy it was me (who scored the first basket),” Fluellen said, “but I was happy my teammates backed me up and helped me score.”
Paine stayed up-tempo throughout and went into intermission up 46-34.
The Lions led by double digits much of the second half until the Tigers made a late run.
Jeffrey Wherry scored 22 points to lead Stillman, while Ladarius Rhone added 21.
The Tigers shot 42 percent from the field, with 12 3-pointers.