Howard Payne extends win streak to four games

TYLER - Trailing by a dozen points at halftime, the Howard Payne Lady Jackets climbed out of a double-digit hole and extended their win streak to four games with a 78-75 victory over Whitworth Monday afternoon in non-conference action.

Howard Payne (7-5, 3-1) faced a 45-33 deficit at the break, but outscored Whitworth (6-4) by a 21-15 count in the third period and by a 24-15 margin in the fourth to complete the comeback.

The Lady Jackets shot 41 percent from the floor (28 of 69) compared to 54 percent (29 of 54) by Whitworth, which also owned a 37-26 edge in rebounds. But Howard Payne forced 29 turnovers that led to 26 points, while committing just 12, and outscored Whitworth 19-13 at the free throw line.

Jada Evans came off the bench to score a career-high 28 points, with 19 coming in the second half, to pace Howard Payne. Valarie Matlock chipped in 13 points trailed by 10 from Anastasia Willis, nine from Dominique Featherstone, seven from Chelsey Harris, five from Djimonii Jackson, four from Presley McKethan, and two points from Caprica Brooks.

For Whitworth, Madison Moffat led the way with a double-double of 21 points and 12 rebounds. Grace Douglas also finished in double figures with 16 points, as did Alli Kieckbusch with 14.

Down 60-54 at the start of the fourth quarter, HPU slipped behind by seven points, 70-63, with 5:35 remaining. But the Lady Jackets responded with eight straight points - a jumper by Willis, a trey and a deuce from Evans, and the go-ahead free throw from Harris - to snatch a 71-70 lead with 2:48 left.

Tied at 73 with 1:48 to go, the Lady Jackets regained a 75-73 edge on two free throws by Jackson. Camy Aguinaldo scored with 52 seconds left to pull Whitworth even at 75, but Evans drained the go-ahead jumper with 31 seconds to go.

With 5 seconds left, Whitworth missed a go-ahead three-point attempt but gtabbed the offensive rebound, where Evans made a steal and was fouled with two seconds left. Evans sank one of two free throws for the final three-point margin.

HPU returns to action at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 4 when UT-Tyler visits for an American Southwest Conference encounter.