BELTON — The losing streak for the Howard Payne Yellow Jackets continued Thursday night, as the Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders dished out a fifth consecutive setback, 87-70.
Despite the loss, Howard Payne (7-12, 3-8) remained 1 ½ games back of fourth place — and the final berth in the ASC championship tournament — with six contests remaining, thanks to McMurry’s 70-60 victory over Hardin-Simmons. Both McMurry and Hardin-Simmons own 5-7 league marks, tied for fourth place, but both also own a victory over the Yellow Jackets.
Mary Hardin-Baylor (14-5, 7-4), meanwhile, moved within two games of ASC West leader Sul Ross (14-5, 9-2), which suffered a 95-94 loss to Concordia (13-6, 7-4) Thursday night.
In HPU’s loss at UMHB, the Yellow Jackets’ offense again labored with a 35-percent (24 of 68) shooting performance, compared to 48 percent (29 of 61) for the Crusaders. HPU, which trailed 48-38 at halftime, and UMHB both finished with 42 rebounds and 12 turnovers. The Yellow Jackets led 22-16 in second-chance points, while the Crusaders held a 30-20 advantage in points in the paint.
Khyce Randall poured in a game-high 30 points to pace HPU, but no other Yellow Jacket reached double figures. Rickey Guillory and Darren Farmer chipped in eight points apiece trailed by seven from Timothy Aguero, six from Shadd Cole, five from Joshua Taylor, four from Cody Hastings and two points from Thomas Bingham.
Brian Long paced UMHB with 19 points followed by 14 from Sam Moore and 13 from Shaq Martin.
With 12:52 left in the first half, a jumper by Farmer gave HPU a 12-11 lead — its last advantage of the contest. UMHB responded with the next six points to grab a 17-12 lead that eventually grew to double figures, 31-21, at the 7:39 mark.
Howard Payne crept as close as three points, 39-36, on a trey by Hastings with 2:47 left before halftime, but UMHB ended the half on a 9-2 run.
The Crusaders gradually increased their lead in the second half, with the advantage peaking at 24 points, 70-46, on a Long jumper with 9:26 to go.
HPU closed the gap to 15 points, 85-70, but that occurred with just 48 seconds remaining.
The Yellow Jackets will attempt to halt their slump at 4 p.m. Saturday when they visit Concordia.