COLUMBUS - Leroy Grant tries to let his teammates get into a rhythm but if he sees they are struggling, he takes a more active role like he did Tuesday.
Grant scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half as Paine won the first men's game of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament with a 63-51 win over Morris Brown at the Columbus Civic Center.
Paine (15-12) will meet Kentucky State (17-8), which received a bye, in a SIAC quarterfinal matchup at 1 p.m. on Thursday. Morris Brown (2-22) is done for the season.
The Lions didn't play particularly well in the first half and trailed a good portion of the first 20 minutes before settling for a 26-26 tie.
"It's always tough playing in the first round," Paine coach Ron Spry said. "You know if you don't play well it's over."
Grant made sure that Paine would assert itself in the second half. On the team's first possession after intermission, Grant posted a Morris Brown defender and scored on a baseline jumper and Paine would never relinquish its lead.
Paine led by as many as 16 points, 48-32, with eight minutes to play.
"We didn't come out with the intensity on defense in the first half," Grant said. "In the second half, we picked up the intensity on defense and I got into it more on offense. What I want to do as a senior is try to get everybody else producing and then I try to take on more of the offense if I see we need it."
Spry said Grant gave Paine a huge spark.
"Leroy did a good job of going inside for us," Spry said.
Paine also received excellent play from guards Maurice Wright and Benjamin Kohn. The two combined for 25 points and 10 assists, including 15 points and eight assists in the second half. They did a good job of distributing the basketball and getting the ball into the low post to Grant and fellow forward Sha'Drach Qawiy.
"It's (the first round game) the most important game of the tournament because it helps you set a tempo," Wright said. "I was just trying to help us control the tempo. At halftime, we knew we had played a bad half. We had to pick up our intensity on defense and that's what we did. We are a second-half team."
Paine forced Morris Brown into 27 turnovers, 16 in the second half. Morris Brown was led by Brandon Lewis with 17 points and Frank Gettridge with 16 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.
MORRIS BROWN (51)- Brandon Lewis 5-12 6-8 17, Alfred Jones 0-4 0-0 0, Chavis Owens 0-0 0-0 0, Frank Gettridge 7-14 2-5 16, Tony Lamarr 1-5 3-4 5, Sabata Holloway 2-4 0-0 4, T'Michael Jones 1-4 0-0 2, Todd Triplett 3-8 1-2 7, Marcus Molden 0-1 0-0 0, Onyeabo Oji 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-52 12-19 51.
PAINE (63)- Benjamin Kohn 5-10 0-2 11, William Thomas 1-3 0-0 2, Ronald Slaughter 0-1 0-0 0, Dominique Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Michael Williams 0-1 0-0 0, Maurice Wright 5-9 3-5 14, Sha'drach Qawiy 5-11 1-3 11, Tim Alexander 1-4 2-2 4, John Jackson 1-1 0-0 2, Marlon Potts 1-4 0-2 2, Leroy Grant 8-14 1-4 17. Totals 27-58 7-18 63.
3-point goals: Morris Brown 2-7 (Kohn 1-3, Wright 1-1, Thomas 0-1, Slaughter 0-1, Alexander 0-1). Rebounds: Morris Brown 44 (F. Gettridge 14), Paine 32 (Potts 6). Assists: Morris Brown 9 (Owens 4), Paine 15 (Wright 7). Turnovers: Morris Brown 27, Paine 16. Total Fouls: Morris Brown 19, Paine 17.