Germaletta Dyson wishes she could take back the final two minutes of Paine College's last home basketball game of the season.
The 6-foot-1 sophomore dominated the women from LeMoyne-Owen for 38 minutes before missing three straight free throws as the Lady Lions were handed a 50-47 defeat Friday.
"That's what lost the game, those three free throws," Dyson said.
The slip at the end marred an explosive 24-point performance for Dyson, who also grabbed 19 rebounds - both game highs.
"We were in control there for much of the game," said Dyson, who hit 6-of-7 attempts before going cold. "My rhythm just got off. It was a game we should've won - just needed those last two minutes."
The Lady Lions will get another shot at LeMoyne-Owen. Coach Selina Bynum's squad drew the fourth-seeded Lady Magicians in the first round of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament, which starts today at Fair Park Arena in Birmingham, Ala.
The fifth-seeded Lady Lions will play at 10 a.m., while Paine's men will take on Albany State in first-round action at noon.
The Lady Lions (10-16) split with the Lady Magicians (9-17) during the regular season, having beaten LeMoyne-Owen 65-53 just eights days beforeFriday's meeting.
After winning just twice in its first 10 games of the season, Paine caught fire, rolling off five straight and six of seven, largely behind the play of Dyson, who is first in the conference in rebounding (10.7), second in field goal percentage (50.4 percent) and fifth in scoring (13.4).
"They're a team to watch out for," said Fort Valley State head coach Lonnie Bartley, whose No. 1-seeded Lady Wildcats barely escaped with a 71-68 victory over Paine on Feb.15. "Dyson is one of the better players in the league, and the team plays well when its guards get hot."
The men's team shot out of the blocks this season to an 8-2 record, winning their first five games at home.
Coach Ron Spry said he didn't want his team getting too comfortable with its quick start.
"When you get satisfied, you start making mistakes, and you don't get better," Spry said after a 91-79 victory over Clark-Atlanta on Jan. 10.
After beating Clark-Atlanta again Jan.17, Paine dropped four games in a row, eventually slipping from atop the conference to No. 7. The Lions aren't in a bad position facing the 10th-seeded Rams.
Paine (14-13) swept the regular-season series, knocking Albany State off 70-58 on Jan. 12 and 70-51 on Feb. 1.
The Lions' early season success was heightened when Colin Jamerson (16.9 ppg) and Yari Soctt (16.8 ppg) both got hot offensively. During the last half of the season, however, it was rare for both players to be on fire at the same time.
Poor free-throw shooting has been Paine's biggest setback as it sits next to last in the conference with 59.9 percent accuracy from the stripe as a team. The only team to shoot worse was Albany State, which hit just 59.5 percent of its free throws.
"Free throws and defense have been the key to our wins and losses this season," Spry said. "The main thing you need going into a tournament is momentum. We haven't played well consistently in either of those areas all season."
Reach Patrick Green at (803) 648-1395.