Paschal stars in coach's debut

Tracey Paschal and Nicole Mealing made sure the Tes Sobomehin era began on the right track Saturday night.

Paschal and Mealing combined for 53 points as the Lady Jaguars held off Bene-dict for a season-opening 84-75 win at Christenberry Fieldhouse.

After the game, the Lady Jaguars enjoyed a cake in honor of their first-year coach's first win. Sobomehin coached her first Division II game after three seasons at Division III Kalamazoo.

"I was definitely anxious to get it done," she said.

Before the game, members of last season's team, along with former coach Greg Wilson, received their rings for winning a share of the Peach Belt Conference regular-season title. After tipoff, Paschal recorded a career performance. A senior forward, she scored 28 points -- eclipsing her previous high of 19 -- on 10-for-13 shooting from the field. Paschal also added nine rebounds.

"It's my last year playing," she said. "So I have to play every game like it's my last one."

Mealing, a junior guard, matched her career high with 25 points on four 3-pointers. She added 11 boards and two steals.

Benedict (1-2), which finished last in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference last season, shot 45 percent from the field but committed 23 turnovers. The Lady Tigers were led by Ashley Price's 29 points.

Porsha White, who scored 14 points, made a layup to give Augusta State its biggest lead of the second half at 11 with 8 minutes remaining. Benedict responded with an 11-2 run to trim its deficit to two.

With the game in the balance, Paschal came up clutch. She converted a three-point play. Later, she put back White's second missed free throw. The Lady Jaguars led 76-69.

"Basketball is a game of spurts," Sobomehin said. "We've got to keep playing smart. We've got to keep doing the little things."

Augusta State played without junior guard Jasmine Godwin, last season's leading scorer. Godwin served a one-game suspension for violating team rules in the off-season.

Senior center Sherika Parker is also out indefinitely with an unspecified suspension.

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