For a change, it was the Anne Arundel Community College women's basketball team that got off to a fast start.
More familiar was the ensuing dry spell. And the eventual victory.
Sophomore guard Katie Laidley scored a game-high 22 points as Anne Arundel pulled away from visiting Prince George's Community Collegein the waning minutes to take a 70-64 decision.
The Pioneers are 10-5 overall, 7-2 in the JuCo League. Prince George's is 6-11 and 4-6.
Anne Arundel scored 13 of the game's first 15 points on deadly accurate shooting and strong rebounding, but the Owls fought back to a30-30 tie at halftime. The teams exchanged the lead five times in the second half, until center Tiffany Clayton lined in a shot to put Anne Arundel up for good, 52-51, with 5:44 left.
"The first five minutes, we were blowing them away," said sophomore guard Nikki Beall, who scored eight points off the bench. "It never should have been tiedat halftime. We should have just taken it to them."
"Usually, it's us having to come back from being down," said Pioneers coach Tom Smith. "But today we got off to the good start, which is what we've been stressing.
"But they have those mental lapses where they go downand try to force stuff that's not there. And we had a lot of easy shots that we didn't put down."
The easiest ones are supposed to come from the foul line, but the Pioneers made only four of 16 free throws in the first half, 12-of-24 for the game.
"We didn't capitalizewhen we got hammered and went to the line," Smith said. "Most of them are one-and-ones. You make those, you're up by 15 at halftime.
"I told them to relax more at the line. They were shooting too quick."
Everyone was shooting quickly in the second half. The deliberate pace early on turned frantic after intermission, much to Anne Arundel's liking.
"We're a better team with the tempo up and fast breaks," Beall said. "When we settle it down, we're not as good as we shouldbe."
"We picked it up and got more aggressive in the second half," said sophomore guard Stacey Dent. "We initiated it."
A Beall three-pointer with 2:14 left in the first half gave Anne Arundel a 30-24lead. But the Owls scored the next nine points, including three to open the second half, giving them a 33-30 lead.
The Pioneers moved back in front, 40-39, when Ann Heiser scored inside with 14:20 left, but the lead see-sawed back and forth until Clayton's jumper.
Laidley stole the ball and fed Dent for a layup, then scored off the glass to give the Pioneers a 56-51 advantage. Prince George's Jill Bristol made one free throw before Anne Arundel's Rhonda DeShaw hit twice from the line, Laidley scored on a baseline jumper and Beall made a three-point play to increase the lead to 63-52, with 2:35 remaining.
Anne Arundel led, 68-55, before Prince George's tallied nine of the last 11 points.
Heiser scored 14 points, and DeShaw added 11 points and 15 rebounds. Laidley grabbed nine rebounds and had one block.
Stacy Darden led Prince George's with 19 points and 16 rebounds.
Anne Arundel has six more home games, including Hagerstown this afternoon and Frederick Sunday, before closing the regular season at Allegany (Feb. 16), Garrett (Feb. 17) and Catonsville (Feb. 18).
"That's why we couldn't really pressure today and play the way I'd like tohave played them," Smith said. "We're going to burn out down the road."