FLORENCE — A near flawless first half gave the North Alabama women a big lead and the Lions coasted to a 72-54 victory over Paine College on Saturday afternoon.
It was fifth consecutive victory and the eighth in nine games for UNA (8-2).
UNA shot 60 percent from the field in the opening half and made 7 off 11 (63.6 percent) from beyond the arc.
“The first half was the best 20 minutes of basketball we’ve played in a long time,” coach Terry Fowler said. “We’ve been able to practice more lately, which has allowed us to clean up some things. Our offense is really starting to come together.”
The Lions consistently got the ball inside for layups and took a quick 16-3 lead. Abby Andrews got the perimeter game going as she came off the bench and hit three treys in the half.
“It was good to see Abby get going the way she did,” Fowler said. “She has been a different player in practice this week and we need her to be able to hit the 3-pointers.”
A jumper by Andrews started a 6-0 spurt that put the Lions up 28-7. Paine (1-5) cut into the lead late in the half before Jennifer Towne took over for the Lions. The freshman guard hit a pair of 3-pointers and a transition layup to send UNA into halftime with a 47-22 lead.
The second half got sloppy as every Lion played. UNA’s largest lead was 52-24 after a layup by Nichelle Fillmore. Paine chipped away the rest of the way but the Lions were never threatened.
Fillmore led UNA with 17 points, followed by Towne with 13, Andrews with 11 and Kaseama Ashbourne with 10. Ashley Watts paced Paine with 21 points.
“Our post players have figured out how to play off each other and that led to some easy baskets,” Fowler said. “If we can continue to do that and shoot the 3’s well, we should be tough to guard.”
UNA will break for exams before returning to action at Florida Southern on Dec. 18.
“It will be good to have more practice time to shore up some things,” Fowler said. “Then we have our first real road trip. We’re seeing some positive things and we just need to keep getting better.”
Jeff McIntyre can be reached at 256-740-5737 or jeff.