They turned the ball over. They missed free throws. They gave up offensive rebound after offensive rebound. They couldn't make a field goal.
For the first 14 minutes of the second half Saturday night against Albany State, the Paine College women's basketball team looked about as sloppy as it has all season.
But there are reasons why the Lions are vying for first place in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference - patience, depth, balance, experience - and they showed about all of them in pulling out a 68-65 victory over the Rams at Carter Gymnasium.
"We did a better job of not letting (the opponent's momentum) dwell too long," Paine coach Selina Kohn said. "We made a lot of adjustments to get back into the game and we didn't let the turnovers turn into such a big lead."
The important conference win followed Paine's first SIAC loss of the season on Thursday and moved the Lions (11-4, 8-1) into second place alone, one game behind Fort Valley State.
They had to scramble for it, though, trailing by 10 with less than 6 minutes remaining after blowing a seven-point halftime lead.
"With our team, we're very veteran and we've been in big games before," said reserve point guard Savoyia Barrett, who came off the bench to spark Paine's comeback and finished with a game-high 20 points.
"So we've learned how to be able to keep our poise, do what's working for us and stop doing what's been hurting us."
The Lions blew an eight-point lead in the first half but recovered and led 32-25 at the half. By the 13:44 mark of the second half, however, Albany State had charged to a 41-33 lead thanks to a 16-1 run.
Paine stayed patient on offense and made several adjustments on defense, and things finally began to swing back its way with 5:24 left.
The Lions went on an 11-0 run over the next two minutes to take a 57-56 lead, forcing Albany State (5-11, 4-5) into seven scoreless possessions.
Holding a 59-57 lead with 1:40 left, Paine put the ball in Barrett's hands, and she delivered with a three-point play on a falling-down runner that opened a 62-57 advantage. Two more Barrett foul shots on the next possession built the lead to seven, and though Albany State pulled within three in the final seconds, the Lions held on.
"One of the things I like about Savoyia coming off the bench is that she can give us an added energy and offense," Kohn said. "She does a lot of things ... and she was pretty determined tonight."
Akia Stanton added 13 points and seven rebounds for Paine, and Chantal Murray scored 12.
Aldrany Peak led Albany State with 11 points and 12 rebounds, and Keywanna Price scored 10.
Reach Steve Sanders at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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