The Howard Payne Yellow Jackets reduced an 11-point deficit to one, but couldn’t complete a second comeback in their 65-60 American Southwest Conference opening loss to the Sul Ross Lobos Monday night.
Down nine at one point in the first half, the Yellow Jackets (1-2, 0-1) regrouped and grabbed a 33-29 halftime edge. But the Lobos (2-2, 1-0) used a 16-6 run midway through the second half to build a 56-45 advantage with 8:06 remaining.
The Yellow Jackets slowly shaved away the deficit, and Tom Hermann’s bucket with 2:11 left closed the gap to 61-60.
But Howard Payne failed to score the rest of the way, with Lee Scott’s three-point attempt rattling around the rim before falling out with 16 seconds left. At that point, the Yellow Jackets trailed 63-60.
“I was pleased with the effort. We played great for the most part,” said HPU head coach Charles Pattillo. “Only if a couple of shots that had a chance to go down would have went down. Sometimes you get them and sometimes you don’t.”
A dozen Yellow Jackets scored, led by Hermann’s 13 points. Travis Dawson chipped in nine points, while Scott had seven and Brock Woods finished with six.
Four Lobos finished in double figures, led by the game-high 19 points of Art Gonzalez. Filiberto Torres chipped in 16, followed by 12 from Abraham Ely and 10 from Ricky Aguilar.
Sul Ross shot 49 percent from the floor (21-of-43), but converted 56 percent (10-of-18) of its three-pointers.
“You have to had it to Sul Ross,” Pattillo said. “They executed their offense great. We were doing what we were supposed to be doing on defense, stopping their penetration, and they kicked it out and knocked the shots down.”
Howard Payne finished with a 42 percent (21-of-50) effort from the field and committed a season-low 16 turnovers. The timing of those mistakes, however, is what allowed Sul Ross to make its second-half charge.
“We had 12 turnovers in the second half, nine in the first five minutes, and that just killed us,” Pattillo said.
HPU will host University of the Ozarks at 3 p.m. Saturday.