Ray Osborne stood outside the Anne Arundel Community College locker room and offered an analysis that defied the final score.
"All of us weren't ready to play," the Pioneers' 6-foot-2 forward said. "We got off to a real slow start. The shots just weren't falling."
They eventually did, in droves.
Behind a turnover-hungry, trapping defense and three explosive first-half runs, the Pioneers managed to shake free from upset-minded Montgomery-Rockville and win decisively, 117-73, Saturday afternoon.
Anne Arundel is 21-4 overall, 16-1 in the Maryland JuCo League and ranked sixth nationally in the Division II junior college poll heading into the regular season's final two weeks.
The latest victory didn't come as easily as the 44-point margin would indicate, not with the Pioneers initially forced into an ill-fitting half-court game.
They missed six of their first seven shots and fell behind early, 16-8, to a team they had toyed with on Dec. 15 in a 131-108 win.
"We've never seen them like that," said point guard Jay Mouzon, a teammate of Osborne's at Meade. "Last time we played them, they kind of laid back and gave us our way, but this time they put up a little fight."
Enough of a fight to rehash old questions about Anne Arundel's ability to conform to a slower, moredisciplined pace.
Pioneers coach Mark Amatucci expects to find some answers over the next two weeks, when his team likely will be drawn into the same tempo against Essex, Montgomery-Takoma Park and Montgomery-Germantown.
Anne Arundel wouldn't be contained for the full 40 minutes Saturday, eventually luring Rockville (6-16, 5-11) into a series of mad dashes up and down the floor.
But none of the Pioneers have forgotten that Essex, this afternoon's opponent, stayed in the half-court game and prevailed, 69-66, in early December.
"Even ifthey do make us play that, if we just run our offense more instead of taking the first shot available and make them work a little bit on the defensive end, everything will work out," said Mouzon, who was not with the team for the first game against Essex.
"All I'm asking from them over the next few games is that they play hard and execute," Amatucci said. "I'm not saying we have to win any games, or we haveto do something extraordinary. Just go out and execute and play together and play hard, like we've been doing. If they do that I'll be very happy, whether we win or lose."
Any thoughts Rockville had of winning were erased in dizzying fashion, when the Pioneers went on a 16-0 run in the first half to take a 44-32 lead. A 9-0 spurt to close the half left the Knights behind by 23 points, 61-38.
End of game.
The Pioneers shot 46 percent (45-of-97) from the floor, and all 11 players scored. Annapolis graduate Ron Wade led all scorers with 25points -- he had 30 in the December triumph -- and Chambers added 22.
Other Pioneers in double figures were Osborne (18 points), Jason Sigler (12) and James Sharps (10). Butch Williams had nine points and Tom Rose eight.
Jay Phillips led Rockville, which was out-rebounded, 56-39, with 20 points.
Anne Arundel overcame the early 16-8 deficit by scoring 11 straight points. Wade accounted for five, including a layup and dunk off two of Rockville's 38 turnovers.
Rose added four points in the sequence, scoring first off a Chambers steal and feed and then a Mouzon no-look pass.
"After that, I thought we were in pretty good control," Amatucci said.
He was right, except for first-half technical fouls on Sharps and Wade that marred an otherwise impressive resurgence.
The Pioneers easily could have been whistled for two other technicals for brief outbursts during the half.
"That'll be paid for tomorrow (Sunday)," Amatucci said. "You don'twant to do things like that because, No. 1, it gives the opposition fuel to complain, and also it looks bad, and we're a class organization. We don't go for that."
Part of Anne Arundel's frustration could be attributed to the early absence of its running game, again magnifying the importance of today's return encounter with Essex.
As Mouzon said, "If we lose our composure Monday, it definitely could get out of hand."
Poor shooting proved the downfall of the Anne Arundel Community College women's basketball team Saturday -- both from the floor and the free-throw line.
The Pioneers shot just 31 percent (21-of-67) from the floor and 50 percent (9-of-18) from the line inlosing to visiting Allegany, 57-51.
"We're really hurting inside now and we're giving up quite a few fouls," said Anne Arundel coach Tom Smith, whose team fell to 11-6 overall, 10-4 in the Maryland JuCo League.
"Right now, we're just trying to get some balance. We're relying so much on our outside shooting, and when that fails, we're introuble."
Freshman guard Nikki Beall, a Meade graduate, led Anne Arundel with 14 points. Katie Laidley (Severna Park) followed with 13points, Rhonda DeShaw (Andover) 11 and Stacey Dent (South River) seven.
Sarah Krucoff (Arundel) added three points, Amy Hercha (Glen Burnie) two and Jen Rickard (Southern) one.
Allegany evened its record at 8-8.
The Pioneers' next game is 6 p.m. tonight at Potomac State.