JACKSON, Miss. — The Howard Payne Lady Jackets’ season-opening trip to Mississippi proved successful with victories of 96-77 over Berry College Friday night and 76-66 over Huntingdon College Saturday afternoon.
The Lady Jackets (2-0), coming off their ninth consecutive 20-win season, open American Southwest Conference action at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Brownwood Coliseum against UT-Tyler. Howard Payne is seeking its sixth ASC championship since 2005.
Lady Jackets 96, Berry College 77
Leading by two points at halftime, the Lady Jackets put 50 points on the board in the second half to pull away for a 19-point victory over Berry College in the season opener.
Tresta Donahoo led the charge with 25 points trailed by 22 from Dana Marrs, 14 from Danyel Bradley, nine from Britani Gattis, six from Breanna Conway, five from Kayla Scott, four each from Senae Dillard and Morgan Marriott, three from Yessenia Cazares and two points apiece from Shardena Hudson and Jessica Galaviz.
The Lady Jackets shot 49 percent (37 of 75) from the floor and 41 percent (7 of 12) from three-point land, as Donahoo was 5 of 6 from beyond the arc. Marrs and Scott tacked on the other treys.
At the free throw line, a concern for fifth-year head coach Josh Prock heading into the season, Howard Payne converted 68 percent (15 of 22) of its attempts.
The Lady Jackets also won the battle on the boards with 25 rebounds to 21 for Berry, which shot 45 percent (28 of 62) overall, 40 percent (8 of 20) on three-pointers and 57 percent (13 of 23) at the charity stripe.
Howard Payne also forced 26 turnovers, while committing 17.
The Lady Jackets opened the game in an early 14-5 hole and trailed 29-21 with 9:09 left before halftime. But Howard Payne responded with 20 of the next 27 points to grab a 41-36 advantage with 2:58 left before intermission.
A three-pointer by Donahoo knotted the score at 36 at the 4:57 mark, and another trey by Donahoo two minutes later stretched the lead to five points.
HPU’s largest lead of the first half was seven points, 44-37, following a three-pointer from Scott at the 2:06 mark
In the second half, the Lady Jackets found themselves behind 49-47 just 90 seconds after the break, but responded with 14 of the next 16 points to open a 61-49 edge. A three-pointer by Donahoo, who tallied seven points during the run, ignited the surge, while Marrs chipped in five points and Gattis added two.
The Lady Jackets’ lead peaked at 23 points, 78-55, with 10:29 to go following a Donahoo jumper.
Lady Jackets 76, Huntingdon College 66
A solid performance at the free throw line and stifling defense resulted in the second straight victory for Howard Payne.
The Lady Jackets converted 86 percent (24 of 28) of their free throw attempts to help overcome a 35 percent (24 of 69) shooting effort, while Huntingdon sank just 31 percent (24 of 77) of its shots.
Donahoo again led Howard Payne with a double-double of 24 points and a team-best 10 rebounds, followed by 16 points from Bradley, who was 8 of 8 from the charity stripe. Marrs also finished in double figures with 10 points trailed by nine from Gattis, eight from Conway, four points and eight rebounds each from Dillard and Marriott and one point from Scott.
Howard Payne also owned a 38-31 edge in rebounds and forced 19 turnovers, while committing 18.
Up 44-37 at halftime, the Lady Jackets led by 11 points, 48-37, just 1:16 into the second half, but Huntingdon answered with 22 of the next 31 points to seize a 59-57 advantage with 9:20 remaining.
Howard Payne fired back with seven consecutive points — on layups by Donahoo and Bradley and a Marrs trey — to regain a 64-59 edge with 6:45 to go. The Lady Jackets continued their onslaught with 10 of the next 12 points to open a 13-point cushion — 74-61 — and cap a 17-4 game-changing run.