Trailing by six points at halftime, the Howard Payne Lady Jackets scored 13 of the first 15 second-half points to regain control en route to a 61-54 victory over Mississippi College in American Southwest Conference action Thursday night at the Brownwood Coliseum.
Mississippi College (3-2, 0-1) was able to pull even with Howard Payne (4-0, 2-0) with 6:59 left in the contest, but the Lady Jackets responded with 11 consecutive points to open a 58-47 advantage with just over two minutes remaining.
“In the second half our girls came out with more intensity and really just played harder than they did in the first half,” said Lady Jackets head coach Josh Prock. “They also did a good job on their defensive assignments.”
Though the Lady Jackets shot just 34 percent (21 of 61) from the floor and hit 31 percent (4 of 13) of their three-point attempts, they did convert 71 percent (15 of 21) of their free throws, owned a 42-40 edge in rebounds and committed just 14 turnovers to 22 by Mississippi College.
Tresta Donahoo led the offensive effort with 25 points followed by a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds from Britani Gattis. Dana Marrs chipped in nine points trailed by seven from Danyel Bradley, four from Breanna Conway and one point apiece from Kayla Scott and Senae Dillard.
Mississippi College — which shot 26 percent (20 of 56) from the floor, 43 percent (6 of 14) on three-pointers and 83 percent (8 of 11) at the charity stripe — received 14 points from Jamie Lack, 10 points from Traci Rodgers and nine points and 16 rebounds from Ebony Williams.
Trailing 31-25 at halftime, the Lady Jackets tallied the first five points on a layup and a three-pointer by Marrs. Following Mississippi College’s first bucket of the half, Gattis drained a trey to pull Howard Payne even at 33.
With 16:41 left, Donahoo buried a three to push Howard Payne back in front, while Gattis scored in the paint for a 38-33 Lady Jacket lead with 16:15 left, which capped the 13-2 opening surge.
The Lady Jackets stretched the lead to nine points, 46-37, with 11:59 to go following two Marrs free throws, but Mississippi College then made its move.
A jumper by Rodgers with 6:59 left allowed the Lady Choctaws to knot the score at 47, but that signaled the beginning of another Howard Payne run.
A Marrs layup put the Lady Jackets back in front, 49-47, then, following a 2:10 span without a point for either team, Donahoo’s bucket pushed HPU’s lead to four points.
Over the next two minutes, the Lady Jackets received a bucket and two free throws from Gattis, along with a traditional three-point play from Donahoo to open a 58-47 edge with 2:28 left.
Mississippi College was held scoreless for 4:49 during the run.
“I am extremely proud of how our girls fought through the second half and showed a tremendous amount of toughness to beat a good Mississippi College team,” Prock said.
In the first half, Howard Payne jumped out to a 14-4 advantage with 10:44 left before intermission and the lead peaked at 21-10 at the 7:15 mark.
However, Mississippi College closed the first half on a 21-4 run to grab the halftime lead.
The Lady Jackets host Louisiana College at 1 p.m. Saturday.