It was just another day at the office for the No. 2 Howard Payne Lady Jackets, who extended their win streak at the Brownwood Coliseum to 23 games with a 91-35 non-conference victory over the Dallas Christian College Lady Crusaders Thursday night.
The victory was also the second straight by at least 50 points for the Lady Jackets (5-0) and the 151th in head coach Chris Kielsmeier’s tenure at HPU.
A plaque honoring his 150th win — which came Saturday in an 88-24 decision against American Southwest Conference foe University of the Ozarks — was presented to Kielsmeier following Thursday’s win.
“I don’t take anything for granted in this business,” Kielsmeier said. “To get 150 and to get 151 tonight means a lot. I’ve been able to be here a long time and coached some pretty good players. Good players will make you a good coach.”
The Lady Jackets’ last home loss occurred on Jan. 14, 2006 against rival Hardin-Simmons. Kielsmeier also attributed a portion of Howard Payne’s success to the Lady Jackets’ fan base, which seems to grow with each home game.
“We’ve had tremendous fan support,” Kielsmeier said. “This was a rescheduled game tonight and we still had 540 fans here. We’ve built this into one of the premier programs at the Division III level in the nation and it’s great feeling to be able to be the head coach here.”
Thursday’s win provided the Lady Jackets an opportunity to showcase their depth, especially with only five players suiting up for Dallas Christian (4-9).
No Lady Jacket played more than 19 minutes and 10 players saw at least 14 minutes of playing time. Being able to rest the starters and work in some of the less experienced players has been one of Kielsmeier’s main objectives early in the season.
“One of the brightest spots about tonight is it shows the depth of this team,” Kielsmeier said. “We got a lot of great minutes from everybody.
“Everybody seems to be so concerned with what the program is going to be like in the future when we lose these seniors that have been so talented and won so many ball games. But this program is always going to be successful because we recruit good, talented players every year and you saw that tonight. We’ve got a lot of talent on the bench.”
Meia Daniels scored 17 points to pace the Lady Jackets, followed by 12 from Stacey Blalock. Elaine Hobbs added her first double-digit effort of 11 points off the bench, Kim Hoffman poured in nine points, Mionca Hall and Sarah Jockers contributed eight points apiece and Mica Williams and Sarah Pfiester finished with six points each.
Astacia Jones scored 14 points to lead the Lady Crusaders, followed by nine from Stevie Sanford and eight from Quin Reed.
The Lady Jackets shot 43 percent (33-of-76) from the floor compared to DCC’s 24 percent (11-of-45). HPU also owned a 53-27 edge in rebounds and forced 25 turnovers while coughing up the ball just six times.
The Lady Jackets opened the game on a 9-0 run and were never threatened. Howard Payne did allow DCC to hang around for a while as the Lady Jackets did not push the advantage to 20 points until Hall’s three-pointer with 6:51 left in the half made the score 32-12 .
“I thought we came out kind of flat and didn’t quite play with the kind of pop you’d expect from our players, but this was a hard game to get up for,” Kielsmeier said.
The Lady Jackets took a 48-18 lead into the locker room at halftime as Howard Payne did not allow a DCC offensive rebound in the first half, and the Lady Crusaders converted more three-pointers (four) than two-point field goals (two).
Howard Payne put together a 15-0 run midway through the second half that increased the lead to 51 points, 74-23. Hobbs’ layup with 8:09 left capped the run.
The Lady Jackets’ largest advantage of the night was 59 points, 88-29, with came with 2:05 left following a free throw from Williams.
Howard Payne will be back in action at 1 p.m. Saturday at Sul Ross. The Lady Jackets defeated the Lady Lobos, 84-51, at the Brownwood Coliseum on Nov. 26.
“We leave for Alpine in the morning at 8 a.m. and Sul Ross is a difficult place to play,” Kielsmeier said. “We’ve always played well there and found a way to win, but it’s never easy out there. Our players will need to be really focused the next 48 hours.”