TYLER — Another crushing defeat dropped the Howard Payne Yellow Jackets 2.5 games out of the eighth place spot in the American Southwest Conference standings with only five contests remaining.
Despite leading throughout the majority of the second half, the Yellow Jackets lost the edge in the final three minutes as the UT-Tyler Patriots rallied for a 97-93 victory Thursday night.
Howard Payne (4-16, 4-13), which has lost five straight and nine of its last 10, is tied with Ozarks (6-13, 4-12) — which hosts the Yellow Jackets Saturday — as both are looking up at East Texas Baptist (8-11, 6-10) in the race for the final ASC tournament berth.
UT-Tyler (11-9, 10-7), down by nine points at halftime, reclaimed the lead for good, 88-86, with 2:08 remaining on a bucket by Travis Dykman, who led all scorers with 33 points. Dykman scored again with 1:08 left to stretch the lead to 90-86.
A Jorden Young three-pointer with 55 seconds left allowed HPU to cut the deficit to 90-89, but Dykman scored again with 25 seconds to go, making the score 92-89. Bryce Kemp tacked on two free throws with 11 seconds left to extend the UT-Tyler lead to 94-89.
A three-pointer by Donovan Ford brought the Yellow Jackets within 94-92, then UT-Tyler made just one of two free throws to keep HPU in striking distance, 95-92, with six seconds left.
The Patriots opted to foul the Yellow Jackets instead of giving up a potential tying three-point attempt. Ford made the first of two free throws, then UT-Tyler grabbed the rebound. Kemp sank two free throws with three seconds left to ice the contest.
Brandon Gould led Howard Payne — which shot 57 percent (33 of 58) and buried 10 of 15 three-pointers — with 32 points trailed by Ford with 21, Quelan Lancaster with 12, Young with 11, Nigele Robertson and Ross Whittet with six apiece, Joshua Cormier with three and Blake Arbogast with two points.
UT-Tyler sank 58 percent (32 of 55) of its shots including 8 of 16 three-pointers and hit 25 of 37 free throws. Howard Payne was 17 of 28 at the free throw line and committed 16 turnovers to UT-Tyler’s 12.
Dykman’s 33 points were trailed by 24 from Kemp, 15 from Chris Rios and 13 from Jordan Cannon.
The Yellow Jackets dominated the final seven minutes of the first half to take a nine-point lead into the locker room at halftime.
Trailing 29-26 with 6:50 left, Howard Payne went on a 10-2 run to seize a 36-31 advantage with 5:03 left in the first half. Ford contributed six points during the surge, hitting a three-pointer, two-pointer and adding a free throw. Gould and Whittet chipped in two free throws apiece.
UT-Tyler cut Howard Payne’s lead to 38-36 with 3:07 left in the first half, but the Yellow Jackets answered with the final seven points. Buckets from Lancaster and Robertson stretched the advantage to six points, then Young buried a three-pointer with 48 seconds left to extend the Yellow Jacket advantage to 45-36, which it remained the rest of the half.
In the second half, UT-Tyler used a 13-3 run to grab a 49-48 lead at 15:52. Tied at 51 at 14:29, a bucket by Ford and a three-pointer by Gould allowed HPU to reclaim 56-51 edge at 14:05. The Yellow Jackets held that lead until the final three minutes.
ASC MEN’S BASKETBALL
W L W L
UT-Dallas 16 1 18 2
Hardin-Simmons 13 4 13 7
Concordia 12 5 15 5
Mary Hardin-Baylor 10 7 12 8
UT-Tyler 10 7 11 9
Louisiana College 9 7 9 9
Sul Ross 8 9 9 11
East Texas Baptist 6 10 8 11
Mississippi College 5 11 7 12
Ozarks 4 13 6 14
Howard Payne 4 13 4 16
LeTourneau 3 13 4 15
UT-Tyler 97, Howard Payne 93
Mary Hardin-Baylor 73, LeTourneau 45
Sul Ross 105, Ozarks 104
Hardin-Simmons 80, Louisiana College 76
UT-Dallas 78, Mississippi College 69
East Texas Baptist 93, Concordia 89