Bulletin Staff Report

LONGVIEW – Howard Payne’s Yellow Jackets dug out of a 26-point second half deficit to cut the margin to six, but LeTourneau turned back the rally to capture an 81-70 win Saturday in the opening American Southwest Conference basketball game for both teams.

LeTourneau (1-2, 1-0 ASC) led 46-24 at the break and had its largest lead of the game (53-27) early in the second half. But Howard Payne (0-3, 0-1 ASC) trimmed the margin to 72-66 before LeTourneau pulled away.

Howard Payne couldn’t get untracked offensively in the first half, and the Longview-based Yellow Jackets took a seeming comfortable lead into the break.

But the second half belonged to HPU after LeTourneau mounted its largest lead after a Jourdan Hughes 3-pointer with 16:38 remaining. Instead of coasting to victory, LeTourneau instead saw Howard Payne’s offense come to life and almost erase that deficit.

HPU used a 29-13 run, capped by a Keith Perry 3-pointer with 6:26 left, to climb back into the game. The deficit dropped to 72-66 after a jumper by Henry Valladares with 3:57 remaining, but that would be as close as Howard Payne would get.

Brandon Irwin paced HPU with 20 points on 7-of-18 shooting. Perry finished with a double-double, 17 points and 10 boards. John Bryant chipped in with 14 points as Howard Payne was 23-of-59 (39 percent) shooting.

Hughes couldn’t miss in the first half for LeTourneau as he scored 11 of his team-high 17 points in open period. He was 5-of-7 from the floor and 4-of-4 from behind the 3-point arc. LeTourneau was 28-of-48 (58 percent) from the field and drained 11 3-pointers.

After trading baskets for the first seven minutes, LeTourneau used a 16-4 run, capped by an Eric Clark 3-pointer, to give the them a 28-16 lead with 7:59 remaining.

LETOURNEAU 81, HOWARD PAYNE 70

HOWARD PAYNE (0-3, 0-1 ASC)

Brandon Irwin 7-18 6-6 20; Keith Perry 5-10 5-6 17; John Bryant 4-8 4-4 14; Henry Valladares 3-9 2-2 8; Kanyon Payne 2-4 1-2 5; Joshua Dada 1-1 1-1 3; Quentin Calloway 1-4 0-0 2; Zane Smith 0-5 1-2 1; Daniel Bubel 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-59 20-23 70.

LETOURNEAU (1-2, 1-0 ASC)

Jourdan Hughes 5-7 3-5 17; Will Smith 5-7 4-6 14; JJ Rockmore 4-6 3-7 11; Bo Ostarticki 4-6 0-0 9; Eric Clark 3-4 0-0 9; Marchel Louimeus 2-2 2-6 6; Jace Williamson 2-2 0-0 6; Cristian Driver 2-5 0-0 5; Jesse Hayes 1-7 2-4 4; Brent Whitmire 0-0 0-0 0; Deitrich Williams 0-1 0-0 0; Eric Thomas 0-0 0-0 0; Joshua Ford 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 28-48 14-28 81.

Howard Payne 24 46 - 70

LeTourneau 46 35 - 81

3-point goals-Howard Payne 4-21 (Keith Perry 2-6; John Bryant 2-5; Zane Smith 0-4; Henry Valladares 0-1; Brandon Irwin 0-5). LeTourneau 11-21 (Jourdan Hughes 4-4; Eric Clark 3-4; Jace Williamson 2-2; Bo Ostarticki 1-1; Cristian Driver 1-3; Deitrich Williams 0-1; Jesse Hayes 0-4; JJ Rockmore 0-1; Will Smith 0-1).

Fouled out - Howard Payne-Joshua Dada; Kanyon Payne. LeTourneau-None.

Rebounds-Howard Payne 34 (Keith Perry 10), LeTourneau 31 (Will Smith 8).

Assists-Howard Payne 11 (Brandon Irwin 4). LeTourneau 17 (Jesse Hayes 4; Jourdan Hughes 4).

Total fouls-Howard Payne 23, LeTourneau 18.