ABILENE — The Howard Payne Yellow Jackets were unable to complete a season sweep of the American Southwest Conference West Division rival Hardin-Simmons Cowboys Saturday, as HPU was dealt an 81-66 defeat.

Despite the loss — the fourth in the last six games for HPU — the Yellow Jackets (9-13, 4-7) maintained a one-game edge with three to play over Mary Hardin-Baylor (7-14, 3-8) — which fell to third-place Concordia, 97-92, Saturday — for the fourth and final seed from the ASC West into the conference championship tournament.

Hardin-Simmons (13-8, 8-4) — which avenged a 77-69 loss in Brownwood on Jan. 14 — moved within a half-game of Sul Ross (13-8, 8-4) for the ASC West lead and conference championship tournament hosting rights, but the Lobos own the tiebreaker having swept the Cowboys.

The good news for the Yellow Jackets is they have completed their games away from the Brownwood Coliseum, where HPU posted a 4-13 record. In home games this season, Howard Payne is 5-0 and the Yellow Jackets will finish the regular season against Concordia (11-9, 5-5) at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Mary Hardin-Baylor at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sul Ross at 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20.

The Yellow Jackets shot 53 percent from the floor in the first half Saturday and still trailed by nine at intermission, 51-42, as Hardin-Simmons buried 8 of 16 three-pointers and 13 of 16 (81 percent) of its free throws — while also shooting 50 percent as team.

Howard Payne cooled off dramatically in the second half, knocking down just 24 percent (7 of 29) of its shots over the final 20 minutes, which allowed Hardin-Simmons to pull away. The Cowboys also converted 12 of 29 (41 percent) three-pointers overall, compared to 5 of 14 (36 percent) by the Yellow Jackets.

Khyce Randall and Rickey Guillory were the only Yellow Jackets to reach double figures, finishing with 16 and 12 points, respectively. Bryan Adams added nine followed by seven from D.J. Gardner, six each from Willie Foreman and Volney Willis, four from Evan Vaden, two from J Bailey and one point from Shadd Cole.

Five Cowboys reached double digits in scoring — Dashun Dixon with a game-high 18 points trailed by Cameron Barnes with 14, Caleb Spoon with 12, Nathaniel Jack with 11 and Duane Hopper at 10.

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ASC MEN’S BASKETBALL

WEST DIVISION

Conf. Overall

W L W L

Sul Ross 8 3 13 8

Hardin-Simmons 8 4 13 8

Concordia 5 5 11 9

Howard Payne 4 7 9 13

Mary Hardin-Baylor 3 8 7 14

*McMurry x x 3 19

* ineligible for postseason/reclassifying

———

EAST DIVISION

Conf. Overall

W L W L

East Texas Baptist 11 2 18 4

UT-Dallas 7 4 15 5

Louisiana College 7 6 10 11

LeTourneau 6 7 9 13

UT-Tyler 3 10 10 11

Ozarks 2 8 11 9

*Belhaven x x 2 19

* ineligible for postseason/reclassifying

———

Saturday’s Games

Hardin-Simmons 81, Howard Payne 66

Sul Ross 72, McMurry 68

Concordia 97, Mary Hardin Baylor 92

East Texas Baptist 56, LeTourneau 54

Louisiana College 81, UT-Tyler 68

UT-Dallas 86, Belhaven 78