Howard Payne now 2-4 on the season

Coming off a 39-point loss in their American Southwest Conference basketball opener, the Howard Payne Yellow Jackets put forth their best performance of the season in Saturday’s home debut, an 86-73 non-conference victory over the Southwestern Pirates at the Brownwood Coliseum.

The Yellow Jackets (2-4, 0-1) shot a blistering 53 percent (31 of 58) from the floor, including 55 percent (16 of 29) in the second half to turn a six-point lead at intermission into a double-digit victory.

Khyce Randall again paced HPU with 24 points, eight rebounds and four assists — all team-highs — while De’Marcus Hurd chipped in 19 points and Shadd Cole finished with 10 points and six boards. Eleven Jackets scored Saturday as Darren Farmer contributed nine points trailed by six from Talen Davis, five from Drake Cooper, four from Cole Bene’, three from Thomas Bingham and two points apiece from Timothy Aguero, Colton Otts and Cody Hastings.

Howard Payne also knocked down 12 of 22 three-pointers (55 percent) and sank 12 of 19 free throws (63 percent), while owning a 41-33 edge in rebounds as well.

For Southwestern (2-4), Ryan Odgen led the charge with 18 points followed by 15 from Ryan Wheeler and 11 from William Pendygraft.

The Pirates sank 42 percent (28 of 66) of their field goal attempts, but hit just 4 of 19 three-pointers (21 percent).

Tied at 28 with 5:29 left in the first half, HPU finished on a 10-4 run to take a 38-32 halftime lead. Hurd broke the tie with a bucket at 3:28, then Farmer drained a three-pointer to push the lead to five points. Hurd later drilled a three-pointer, while Farmer added a deuce before the half concluded.

After the break, Southwestern trimmed the deficit to a single point, 43-42, with 16:44 left, but Hurd answered with a three-pointer that triggered a 9-2 spurt as Howard Payne pushed the lead to 52-44 with 14:51 to go.

Another Hurd three-pointer, with 13:02 remaining, gave HPU its first double-digit lead, 58-48, and the advantage continued to grow throughout the second half. The lead reached 18 points on two occasions, the last coming with 6:25 left as a layup by Hastings made the score 75-57 in favor of HPU.

The Yellow Jackets visit NCAA Division I Lamar at 2 p.m. Saturday for an exhibition contest, then resume American Southwest Conference action at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 11 when LeTourneau comes to town.