But Genesee (11-0) followed with the 12-point rally, keyed by strong rebounding and fast break transition.
"That's all intensity. Where's the team fire?" Palmer asked. "When we got the lead, it should have been like kindling lighting. Then it goes to another log and we start a bonfire. We played very complacent the whole game. You can't light any kind of fire with wet wood."
HJC's flame fizzled under Genesee's efficiency. The Lady Cougars used their ability to score 21 fast break points in the first half to take a 43-35 lead at intermission.
"Transition comes from rebounding and we only had nine rebounds at halftime," Palmer said. "(Point guard) Toni DeStefano had five of them. That won't cut it."
And it didn't. In fact, it only got worse. Genesee continued the onslaught in the second half, scoring another 23 transition points to put the game away.
In all, 44 of Genesee's 93 points came off fast-break situations.
"Not everyone on this team brings their best game with them all the time," Palmer said. "We have a couple of players who do. They may not always shoot well, but they always bring their best game. Others don't bring their top games with them all the time."
Genesee featured four women taller than any player on HJC's roster.
Six-foot Petra Pankova, one of three players on Genesee's roster from the Czech Republic, led the Lady Cougars with 29 points. Geraldine White, who stands 6-5, added 21.
Aleshire finished with 24 points and DiStefano had 17 for the Hawks. They each scored five 3-point baskets, the only thing which kept HJC in the game.
"We have trouble matching up with teams in height, but we shouldn't have trouble matching them in intensity," Palmer said.