The Howard Payne Yellow Jackets kept their postseason hopes alive with an 82-77 victory over Concordia Thursday night at the Brownwood Coliseum, pulling off a season sweep of the Tornados — the third-place team in the ASC West standings.
With the win, the Yellow Jackets (10-4, 6-10), McMurry (8-15, 6-10) and Hardin-Simmons (8-16, 6-10) are tied for fourth place and the final berth from the West Division into the ASC championship tournament. HPU hosts second-place Mary Hardin-Baylor in Saturday’s 4 p.m. season finale, and the Yellow Jackets need a victory and a Hardin-Simmons win over McMurry to create a tiebreaker situation for the fourth seed. A Howard Payne loss or McMurry victory — due to sweeping the Yellow Jackets — would end HPU’s postseason hopes.
Howard Payne defeated Concordia, 93-84, in Austin on Jan. 27. In Thursday’s rematch, the Yellow Jackets trailed by 10 points, 73-63, with 4:48 on the clock, but Howard Payne yielded four points the rest of the game while mounting 19 to pull off the stunner.
With 2:23 to go, the Yellow Jackets capped a 12-2 run and drew even at 75 on a pair of free throws by Khyce Randall. Ephraim Price’s two free throws at the 2:01 mark pushed Concordia (15-9, 9-7) back in front, 77-75. Neither team scored again until 59 seconds were left, as Randall drained a go-ahead three pointer for Howard Payne.
With 25 seconds to go, Rickey Guillory tacked on a pair of free throws for an 80-77 HPU lead after Concordia misfired on the ensuing trip down the court. The Tornados then missed a tying three-point attempt with nine seconds to go, and Timothy Aguero hauled down the rebound, was fouled, and sank two free throws to ice the victory.
The Yellow Jackets also trailed by 11 points, 37-26, with 7:26 left in the first half, but used a 22-6 closing spurt to establish a 48-43 halftime advantage.
In the second half, the Yellow Jackets stretched the lead to double figures, 55-45, at the 14:51 mark, but Concordia charged back with a 24-4 run to reclaim its own 10-point cushion, 69-59, with 6:26 to go.
Randall finished with 29 points for Howard Payne trailed by Aguero with 15, Darren Farmer with eight, Shadd Cole with seven, Guillory with six, Thomas Bingham and Joshua Taylor with five apiece, Cody Hastings with four and Talen Davis with three points.
Philip Meikle paced Concordia with 16 points followed by Price with 15, Ben Page with 12 and Ronnie Hamilton and Joshua Samuels with 10 each.