Despite leading for nearly 31 minutes, and owning advantages of 11 points in the first half and nine in the second, the Howard Payne Lady Jackets’ stay at the American Southwest Conference tournament turned out to be extremely brief.
The West Division champion Lady Jackets, hosting the ASC tournament for the first time since 2013, suffered a third consecutive loss to end their season Thursday night at the Brownwood Coliseum.
East Division No. 4 seed Louisiana College moved on to the semifinals of the ASC tournament with a 76-72 triumph over the Lady Jackets.
Louisiana College will face East No. 2 seed UT-Tyler, a 69-61 winner over West No. 3 seed Concordia, in today’s 7:30 p.m. semifinal, while East No. 1 UT-Dallas, which defeated Sul Ross, 72-61, and West No. 2 seed Mary Hardin-Baylor, a 96-68 victor over East No. 3 LeTourneau, will clash at 5 p.m.
The tournament championship game will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday.
The Lady Jackets finished the season with a 15-11 overall record, posting a 4-4 mark down the stretch after opening ASC action with wins in eight of the first nine games.
HPU seniors Micah Cisneroz and Sarahi Castillo carried the load for the Lady Jackets in the finale. Cisneroz finished with a double-double of 24 points and 13 rebounds, while Castillo added 22 points and nine boards. Both players struggled with foul trouble late in the second half, though, which forced the Lady Jackets to deviate from their ideal strategies both offensive and defensively.
Presley McKethan added nine points for HPU while Valarie Matlock and Alexandria Davis chipped in six points apiece, Kristin Cunningham contributed three, Dominique Featherstone finished with two and Djimonii Jackson sank a free throw.
The Lady Jackets shot just 36 percent (29 of 80) from the floor, 31 percent (10 of 32) from the three-point arc and 36 percent (4 of 11) at the free throw line. Howard Payne was also outrebounded 53-44, and outscored 44-32 in the paint.
Louisiana College — which shot 43 percent (31 of 72) from the floor, 39 percent (5 of 13) from the three-point arc and 69 percent (9 of 13) from the free throw line — received 14 points each from Kourtney McGhee and Zharian Maxmillion and 11 points from Karlee Teddlie.
Howard Payne’s last lead came with 48 seconds left when Castillo’s hook shot pushed the Lady Jackets back in front, 72-71. Louisiana College quickly answered with a bucket in the paint as foul trouble forced the Lady Jackets to ease up defensively.
Down 73-72, a three-point attempt by HPU’s McKethan was blocked with 19 seconds left and Louisiana College grabbed possession.
The Lady Cats extended their lead to 75-72 at free throw line with 10 seconds to go, but Howard Payne had one last gasp. On their final possession, however, the Lady Jackets turned the ball over without attempting a shot.
With five seconds remaining, Louisiana College was fouled and sank one of two free throws to secure the four-point victory.
ASC WOMEN’S BASKETBALL
at The Brownwood Coliseum
Thursday, Feb. 23 - Saturday, Feb. 25
Game 1: (W2) Mary Hardin-Baylor 96, (E3) LeTourneau 68
Game 2: (E1) UT-Dallas 72, (W4) Sul Ross 61
Game 3: (E2) UT-Tyler 69, (W3) Concordia 61
Game 4: (E4) Louisiana College 76, (W1) Howard Payne 72
Game 5: (E1) UT-Dallas vs. (W2) Mary Hardin-Baylor, 5 p.m. Friday
Game 6: (E2) UT-Tyler vs. (E4) Louisiana College, 7:30 p.m. Friday
Game 7 (CHAMPIONSHIP): Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6, 6 p.m. Saturday