Three seasons ago, Tiffany Isaac would toss a pass inside the paint to Germaletta Dyson and the result, predictably, was a turnover.
"When I was a freshman, a lot of the passes she would throw me I couldn't catch," Dyson said. "I was thinking a second behind her. Now, I'm thinking along with her."
Seniors at Paine College, Dyson, a 6-foot-1 center, and Isaac, a 5-7 guard, have revitalized a losing program. With Dyson and Isaac averaging a combined 29 points and 18 rebounds a game, Paine stands atop the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference with a 6-3 overall record and a 4-0 conference mark - the best start under fifth-year coach Selina Kohn.
"We've worked hard the past three years," said Isaac, who averages 12.4 points a game. "We're just reaping the benefits now."
The Lady Lions look for their first win over Augusta State since the 1991-92 season when the city rivals meet at 6 tonight at Christenberry Fieldhouse.
"This year is all about getting respect," Isaac said. "This is a good place to start."
When Dyson and Isaac arrived at Paine, they were reluctant to become two-sport athletes. Isaac, a basketball player, was asked to play volleyball. Dyson, a volleyball star in high school, was recruited to play basketball.
"When I came in, Tiffany didn't want to play volleyball," Dyson said. "She was learning a lot in volleyball. I was learning a lot in basketball. We just helped each other out a lot."
Isaac became a floor leader on the basketball court as a freshman, and Dyson saw little playing time. The next season, Isaac tore her anterior cruciate ligament, and Dyson realized it was time to step up.
"That was my turning point in basketball," Dyson said. "Tiffany was our leader. We didn't expect her to get hurt."
Dyson ended the season averaging 13 points and 10 rebounds. The next season, she averaged 12.9 points and 10.1 rebounds per game.
Isaac recovered from her knee injury to lead the team in scoring (14.6 points per game) her junior season.
While the two improved on the court, they remained focused inside the classroom. Isaac, a 2002 all-academic selection by Black Voices Quarterly magazine, carries a 3.4 grade point average in biology. Dyson, who is majoring in early childhood education, has a 3.1 GPA.
"To play two aggressive sports and to do well in academics, it's remarkable," Kohn said.
This fall, Dyson and Isaac accomplished their greatest collegiate athletic feat. They helped lead the Lady Lions to a 22-11 record and a trip to the championship game in the SIAC volleyball tournament.
Dyson, an outside hitter and defensive specialist, was named SIAC Player of the Week six times. She was later named the SIAC Volleyball Player of the Year.
"Volleyball is Germ's sport," Isaac said, referring to Dyson. "I think that gave her a lot of confidence in basketball."
WHO: Paine women (6-3) at Augusta State (6-2); Paine men (3-6) at Augusta State men (5-4)
WHERE: Christenberry Fieldhouse
WHEN: 6 p.m. (women); 8 p.m. (men)
TICKETS: $5 (no passes or season tickets accepted)
RADIO: (men's game only) WRDW-AM (1480 and 1630)
NOTES: The Paine women have not defeated Augusta State since the 1991-92 season. ... Last year, the Lady Jaguars beat the Lady Lions, 78-53. ... The Paine and Augusta State men have split the past two games. The Jaguars defeated the Lions, 91-82, last season. ... Augusta State's David Siebrands leads the Peach Belt Conference in field-goal shooting at 66.2 percent. ... Paine's Yari Scott leads the Lions with 21.7 points a game. ... Lady Lions center Germeletta Dyson leads Paine with 16.6 points and 13.8 rebounds a game.
- Chris Gay
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 114.