The defending American Southwest Conference West champion Howard Payne Lady Jackets continue to inch their way toward the top of the division standings, upending the Ozarks Lady Eagles, 80-62, Saturday at the Brownwood Coliseum for their sixth consecutive victory.

Howard Payne moved to 5-1 in conference play and 9-5 overall with the win and now trails only Mary Hardin-Baylor (13-2, 6-1) by a half-game in the West Division.

Though the Lady Jackets led throughout most of Saturday’s contest, a 30-point third quarter resulted in a 61-39 advantage heading into the final stanza.

Led by 18 points apiece from Presley McKethan and Valarie Matlock, the Lady Jackets knocked down 53 percent (19 of 36) of their second-half shots including 50 percent (8 of 16) of their three-point tries.

“We talked at halftime about picking up the intensity defensively and I also told them we can’t get the press going if we can’t make shots,” said HPU head coach Meia Daniels-Netter, whose team led 31-25 at intermission. “We finally started making some shots and Presley and Valarie took the initiative on steals and on threes and they were just having fun. They picked up the energy and that helped us go on that big run.”

Anastasia Willis chipped in a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds for HPU while other contributors included ASC West Player of the Week Jada Evans with nine points, Caprica Brooks with eight, Djimonii Jackson with five, Chelsey Harris with four and Dominique Featherstone, Arriyanna Forch and Kori Harrison with two points apiece.

Ozarks (1-10, 0-5) drained 48 percent (27 of 56) of its shots overall, but attempted 15 fewer than HPU — which also owned a 39-36 edge in rebounds and forced 19 turnovers while committing 10.

Destinee Manning tallied 13 points for the Lady Eagles while Diamond Goodwyn also finished in double figures with 12.

The Lady Jackets seek their seventh straight win against ASC East leader East Texas Baptist (11-1, 5-0) — coming off a 75-69 win over McMurry — at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Coliseum.

“ETBU is going to come in here and bring pressure, kind of like us,” Daniels-Netter said. “They like to get up and defend really hard. And they’re patient when it comes to offense and they take a lot of good shots. It’s going to be a good game and the girls know how big it is.”