SHERMAN — The Howard Payne Yellow Jackets extended their win streak to a season-best four games, chalking up a 74-67 non-conference road victory over the Austin College Kangaroos Monday night.
The American Southwest Conference West Division front-running Yellow Jackets (9-5, 6-1), who resume league action at Hardin-Simmons (11-4, 5-1) at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, finished the contest on a 9-2 run after Austin College (5-9) pulled even at 65 with 4:22 remaining.
A jumper by Shadd Cole with 3:58 left pushed the Yellow Jackets back in front for good, 67-65, then Cole chipped in a free throw 60 seconds later to stretch the lead to three points. At the 2:10 mark, Cole scored again on a layup to extend the advantage to 70-65.
Following a pair of free throws from Austin Freet, HPU’s lead dwindled to 70-67 with 37 seconds remaining. But Cole scored again with 25 seconds left and Khyce Randall added two free throws with nine seconds to go to ice the victory.
The Yellow Jackets led 37-32 at halftime after closing the first 20 minutes on a 13-1 run.
Down 31-24 with 5:07 left in the half, Thomas Bingham’s layup ignited the HPU rally. A pair of buckets from Rickey Guillory closed the gap to 31-30 at the 3:24 mark. Following an Austin College free throw, De’Marcus Hurd hit a jumper with 2:26 left to even the score at 32, then Guillory drained a three-pointer to push the Yellow Jackets in front, 35-32, at the 2:08 mark. Randall added two free throws with 1:26 left in the half for the five-point margin.
Austin College drew even at 41 just 2:28 into the second half, but the Yellow Jackets responded with seven points in a row — four from Guillory and three from Randall — to open their largest lead, 48-41, with 15:57 to go.
Guillory finished with a team-high 20 points and Randall added 19 as Howard Payne shot 45 percent (24 of 53) from the floor, 47 percent (7 on 15) on three-pointers and 68 percent (17 of 25) at the free throw line. Hurd chipped in nine points followed by Cole with eight, Bingham with six, J Bailey and Talen Davis-Renfro with four apiece and Jeremy Ayers with two points.
Austin College shot just 32 percent (23 of 72) overall, including 35 percent (9 of 26) from the three-point arc. The Kangaroos also converted only 63 percent (12 of 19) of their free throws.
The only Kangaroo to finish in double figures was Austin Wells with 13 points.