Paine College was first to score, with a basket in the post by Lashonda Canty.
Talladega College (2-0) rallied to take a 9-5 lead following an inside basket on a fast break by Ryven Jackson with Arielle George earning the assist.
Paine had an 11-0 run to take a 16-9 lead after an Aalyiha Wright basket on an Ashley Watts assist. Following a Watts jumper from the corner, Paine had vbuilt a 22-12 lead.
TC had a 10-0 run to tie the game at 22-22 after Jamie Robinson made one of two free throws. The Lady Tornadoes gained a 27-26 lead when Jackson scored a transition basket inside with a feed from Robinson. Robinson scored the final basket of the half, driving inside for two points to give TC a 30-28 halftime lead.
The Lady Tornadoes only shot 26 percent in the first half. TC women’s head coach Romeo Lagmay attributed that to beginning of the season nervousness.
“We had some poor shooting at the beginning, but I think really what it was was just jitters: homecoming, nearly half our team is new, and we haven’t seen a crowd like this yet,” Lagmay said. “So, today just shook some people up a little bit. We’ve been playing some lower-level teams, beating them, and we just had to find our groove. Today, I told the team ‘Hey, we’re going to be battle-tested with a division II school that’s well-respected within their conference.’ Tonight, that’s what happened the first half and we made our adjustments. We’re a great 3-point shooting team, but we don’t live and die by the three. So, we had to make our adjustments and we did.”
Paine began the second half with a basket inside by Ariel Brown following a loose ball scramble. That tied the game 30-30.
George knocked down a floater with an assist from Ashawnte Hawkins to regain the lead, 32-30. Later, Ryann Drear made a transition layup to push the Lady Tornadoes’ lead to 47-40.
The team continued to use the transition game, going on a 13-0 run to build a 60-42 lead. Jackson got the run started with a transition basket with Tianna Jones earning an assist to make it 49-42. Jackson made one of two free throws to cap the drive. Part of the run can also be attributed to defensive adjustments.
“We decided to go to a 2-3 zone,” Lagmay explained. “We have three types of zones for half-court, but we’ve been working a lot on our 2-3 zone. We noticed they weren’t shooting well outside. It’s easier to rebound out of a zone—for us it is. Sometimes it’s hard, but we’ve been working on our rebounding out of the zone. We picked up on that and we realized if we’re going to get those rebounds, we were fast breaking them.”
Later, Jackson made one of two free throws again to help TC push their lead to 20 points, 66-46. After Mary Moyer sank two free throws to give TC a 72-50 lead, the game was more or less over.
“Sometimes at the locker room, you’ve just got to let the team know ‘Hey, you’re better; you’re more talented,’” Lagmay said. “‘Capitalize on opportunities. You’re at home. You do need to come out aggressive.’ That was the speech that was given to them. They started to realize ‘Hey, we’re warmed up; let’s get to it. It’s too close of a game. We want to pull away.’ So, they decided ‘If we’re going to get some bruises, we’re going to get some bruises.’ That’s the sacrifice to win.”
George and Drear shared the team lead for points with 13 apiece. Jackson and Jones each contributed 12 points. Jones was contributed three assists, along with Jamie Robinson, who led the team with 12 rebounds.
TC plays this afternoon at 2 p.m. at Kennesaw State. They return home Tuesday against Martin Methodist with tipoff at 5:30 p.m.