As Paine College's lone senior, Kelly Winstead has played in some wild games. He added another to his resume Thursday night.
The Lions scored nine points in the final 33 seconds to upend Fort Valley State, 74-71, at Carter Gym.
"You always have to believe," Winstead said.
Nate Lewis went 11-for-11 from the free-throw line as he scored a game-high 26 to lead the Lions. Winstead chipped in with 13 points, and Lamario Latson added 11 as Paine improved to 6-8 overall and 5-4 in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Fort Valley State led by 12 with 5:43 remaining and took a six-point advantage into the final minute. Lewis made two free throws with 33 seconds remaining to cut into the deficit. Antron Williams then stole the inbound pass and dished to Lewis for a layup. Fort Valley State led 71-69.
On the ensuing play, the Wildcats pushed the ball up court, but Lewis got back and forced a jump ball in front of the Fort Valley State bench. Wildcats coach Michael Moore was so irate with the call he ran off the court, committing a technical foul for leaving the bench.
Lewis hit the two free throws to tie the game with 28 seconds left. Latson scored on a layup 14 seconds later to give Paine the lead. Justin Durham's free throw in the waning moments completed the comeback.
"These young men showed a lot of courage and determination," Paine coach Ron Spry said. "That's unbelievable. I'm glad we hung in there."
"This is one of those teams that's always in the top three (in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference)," Paine coach Selina Kohn said. "You know you're going to see them again in the conference tournament. Now, we know we can play with them."
Sherika Tarpkins scored a game-high 24 to pace Fort Valley State. The Lady Wildcats were held to 26 percent shooting for the game, including an 8-for-37 second-half performance.
The Lady Lions could easily have broken the game open, but went just 22-for-46 from the foul line.
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 868-1222, ext. 114.