During their season-opening West Coast road trip, the No. 2 Howard Payne Lady Jackets did most of their damage in the second half.
That trend continued Monday night in the American Southwest Conference opener as the defending champions turned a seven-point halftime advantage into an 84-51 victory over the Sul Ross Lady Lobos.
The Lady Jackets — who won their 21st straight game at the Brownwood Coliseum — opened the second half on a 14-2 run. Howard Payne (3-0, 1-0) went on to shoot 63 percent (20-of-32) from the floor in the final 20 minutes, while holding Sul Ross (1-2, 0-1) to 29 percent (8-of-28) shooting.
“Our effort was much better in the second half,” said Lady Jackets head coach Chris Kielsmeier. “They played really hard in the second half because they had a lot of energy from not playing very hard in the first half.
“It is early in the season and you’re not going to play as hard as you do later in the season. But on the flip side, this team needs to realize you need to get to that point as quickly as you can.”
The Lady Jackets’ top four scoring threats of Meia Daniels, Stacey Blalock, Kim Hoffman and Hope Hohertz combined for 62 points. Daniels led all scorers with 26.
Sul Ross had a pair of players reach double figures as Morgan Johnson tallied 20 points, followed by 14 from Nitra Woods.
Howard Payne’s ability to push the lead out to 20 points, 56-36, by the 14:09 mark of the second half allowed several of the younger Lady Jackets plenty of time on the floor.
Among the top performers off the bench were Sarah Jockers with six points, Katy Sarem with four points, Elaine Hobbs with three points and Mionca Hall and Sarah Pfieter with two points apiece.
“We got them a lot of minutes tonight which I think is important because we’re going to need the younger players this year,” Kielsmeier said. “That’s something I want to try and do a lot early on so when we’re in tight situations they know what to do and how to respond. We’re not going to win a lot of ball games without everybody contributing.”
Leading 36-29 at halftime, the Lady Jackets started the second half with a bang as Hohertz drilled a three-pointer to push the lead to 10 points just 47 seconds into the second half.
Daniels added a layup at the 18:37 mark, which led to a Sul Ross time out trailing 41-29.
Janice Mitchell scored out of the time out for the Lady Lobos, but Howard Payne responded with the next nine points to grab a 50-31 advantage with 16:05 left in the contest.
A Blalock jumper, a layup from Hoffman and a three-pointer and a layup from Daniels resulted in the burst of nine points.
HPU will host the University of the Ozarks at 1 p.m. Saturday.