Kedric Taylor posted a game-high 17 points Monday night and the Lions fended off Kentucky State down the stretch, 61-57.
Paine extended its winning streak to three games and retained its spot atop the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference standings.
The Lions (3-1) are undefeated in conference play at 3-0 and enjoy a stay in first place, though it’s early – there’s 21 league games remaining. Paine coach Jimmy Link credited his team’s 15-point defeat to the Jaguars for the Lions’ improvement.
“Augusta State is really good,” Paine coach Jimmy Link said. “We took that game and really moved on with it.”
After a sluggish first half against Kentucky State, Paine shot 50 percent from the floor following intermission. The Lions posted just three field goals the final seven minutes of the contest, but it turned out to be enough. Taylor and Mario Jordan combined to drain five of six foul shots in the final 17 seconds to secure the win.
“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to Kentucky State,” Taylor said. “They came and played hard and played good defense.”
The Thorobreds (0-3, 0-3) led 28-24 at halftime and took a four-point lead on a Troy Adams 3-pointer with 13:40 remaining.
Adams led Kentucky State with 15 points off the bench.
Paine responded with a 14-1 run.
James Devlin scored three of his 11 points on a rainbow three.
Devlin then added a layup off a Thorobred turnover. Kenny Fluellen followed with a 3-pointer.
A Fluellen layup with 7:06 remaining capped the spurt and staked the Lions to a 48-39 advantage.
The lead wouldn’t last.
Kentucky State, which grabbed 17 offensive boards, pulled within one point four times in the final five minutes, but it couldn’t get over the hump.
With Paine clinging to a two-point lead, Mike Dorceus canned a 10-foot baseline jumper with 53 seconds remaining.
Later, two Taylor free throws with one second left extended the lead to four, sealing the win.
“Our guys really locked down defensively,” Link said. “As long as we quit giving up second and third chances, we’ll be fine.”