ALEXANDRIA, Louisiana — A 54-percent shooting effort in the first half allowed the Howard Payne Lady Jackets to match their season-high in points this season, and stretch their American Southwest Conference win streak to three games, with an 81-71 road triumph over the Louisiana College Lady Cats Saturday afternoon.
Defending ASC West champion Howard Payne (6-5, 3-1) drained 17 of 31 first-half field goals en route to a 44-31 halftime edge over Louisiana College (6-3, 2-2), which converted just 34 percent (29 of 84) of its shots the entire game. The Lady Cats hung close due to a 61-41 edge in rebounds, but the Lady Jackets forced 20 turnovers as well.
Four Lady Jackets finished in double figures, led by Presley McKethan’s 19-point effort. Caprica Brooks chipped in a career-high 13 points and nine rebounds, Chelsey Harris added a dozen and Valarie Matlock finished with 10 points. Anastasia Willis just missed out on a double-digit effort with nine points trailed by Jada Evans with seven, Djimonii Jackson with six, Jada Jones with three and Dominique Featherstone with two points.
For Louisiana College, Janae Smith, Brooke Jones and Jonika Walton all finished with 12 points apiece, while Rachel Johnson chipped in 10.
Howard Payne owned a 23-19 advantage after one quarter, but began to distance itself from Louisiana College in the second period.
Leading 25-21 at the 9:05 mark, the Lady Jackets reeled off 10 of the next 12 points to open a 35-23 lead with 4:56 to go in the frame. A three-pointer from McKethan started the surge and, after a Louisiana College bucket, McKethan drained another trey prior to a bucket and a pair of free throws from Harris.
Howard Payne maintained its double-digit lead through the third period, carrying a 58-48 edge into the final stanza.
In the fourth period, Louisiana College closed the gap to six points, 65-59, with 4:34 left, but Howard Payne responded with the next eight points to secure the victory. A pair of free from by Evans began the surge, then Jackson chipped in four points ahead of a jumper from Evans, which made the score 73-59 with 3:23 to go.
The Lady Jackets will face Whitworth University (5-3) at 2 p.m. Monday in Tyler in non-conference action. Howard Payne will resume ASC competition Jan. 4 at home against UT-Tyler.