Junior guard helps Paine pull away from Albany State

Paine 71, Albany State 62

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After getting off to a slow start, Kenny Fluellen knew he had to just keep shooting.

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Albany State's Justin Wilcox (bottom) is surrounded by Paine's Sean Morgan (left) and Mario Jordan on Saturday. The Lions moved to 5-0 against SIAC opponents at the HEAL Complex.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Albany State's Justin Wilcox (bottom) is surrounded by Paine's Sean Morgan (left) and Mario Jordan on Saturday. The Lions moved to 5-0 against SIAC opponents at the HEAL Complex.

In the second half, he finally found his rhythm.

The Paine junior guard scored all 17 of his points after halftime as the Lions pulled away for a 71-62 win over Albany State in front of a HEAL Com­plex record crowd of 2,390.

Fluellen made six of his final seven shots, including five 3-pointers to pace Paine after intermission.

“I just had to pick up my confidence and keep shooting,” Fluellen said. “I knew they’d eventually go in after I missed my first three shots.”

Paine finally snapped its pattern of alternating wins and losses in its previous 11 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Confer­ence games. The Lions (10-12, 8-6) won their second in a row with four games remaining in the regular season.

“We want to finish strong going into the conference tournament,” Paine coach Jimmy Link said. “Our biggest thing now is confidence.”

Paine, which shot 58 percent from the field in the second half, improved to 5-0 at home against league opponents since moving into the HEAL Complex. The Lions trailed early in the second half, but Fluellen soon warmed up.

Fluellen swished consecutive 3-pointers and later added a layup to give Paine a 48-44 lead with 11:38 remaining. Then, Jerel Stephenson followed with two free throws and a layup.

After Albany State’s Curtis Fluker scored on a layup, Fluellen responded with another 3-pointer from the left wing to extend the lead to 55-46.

With 2:30 left, Fluellen iced the game with another 3-pointer from the left wing, pushing the Paine lead to 67-54.

“He just got his feet under him and got some lift,” Link said. “He can really shoot it.”

Stephenson led Paine with 19 points on 7 for 10 shooting from the floor. He added team highs with seven assists and seven rebounds. Mario Jordan chipped in with 16 points and six assists, while Sean Morgan added 10 points.

Jaren Harris led Albany State (5-15, 4-10) with 15 points, while Fluker added 11 points and 13 boards for the Rams.


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