The spring semester started Monday at Paine College, but the Lions had already spent plenty of time on campus.
Playing their third home game in five days, the Paine women overcame a sluggish 40 minutes and held off Kentucky State, 65-62, at the HEAL Complex.
The Lions won their third in a row to improve to 6-8 overall (4-1 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference). Against the Thorobrettes (4-10, 0-6), Paine never got in rhythm. Lions coach Willie Adams said the poor performance stemmed from the number of games his team has played recently and the start of school.
“They’ve got a 3.0 as a team. So I know they went to class,” Adams said. “Now we just have to get back in the full swing of things.”
Ashley Watts, the leading scorer in Division II, posted 29 points on 8 of 22 shooting. Watts, who went 10 for 10 from the foul line, made two free throws with 17 seconds remaining to give Paine a three-point lead.
Kentucky State failed to tie the game with 29 seconds left when Lashell West made just one of two free throws. The Thorobrettes had a chance to tie the game again at the end, but their execution broke down. Instead of shooting a needed 3-pointer, West drove the lane for a layup, missing the shot as the clock expired.
Paine had a hard time handling Kentucky State’s inside game, losing the rebounding battle, 44-34. The Lions trailed by seven early in the second half, but despite shooting 33 percent after intermission the team rallied for the win.
“I could see them wearing down from playing three games in five days,” Adams said. “But you could tell they played with heart.”