HPU scores first 13 points, never trails in 10th victory

ABILENE — The Howard Payne Yellow Jackets remained one game back of the American Southwest Conference West Division-leading Hardin-Simmons Cowboys, and one game ahead of the third-place Sul Ross Lobos following Saturday's 74-68 road victory over the McMurry War Hawks.

The second-place Yellow Jackets (10-6, 6-2) tallied the game's first 13 points and never looked en route to a 37-25 halftime advantage. McMurry (8-8, 4-4), which trailed by as many as 14 points in the second half, crept to within four points with 2:01 remaining, but HPU stretched the lead back to seven points with 22 seconds to go. The War Hawks again closed the gap to four with 10 seconds to go, but the Yellow Jackets drained a pair of free throws seconds later to secure the victory.

Howard Payne converted 48 percent (28 of 59) of its field goals, 44 percent (7 of 16) of its three-pointers and 58 percent (11 of 19) of its free throws. The Yellow Jackets also owned a 43-39 edge in rebounds.

J Bailey paced the Yellow Jackets with double-double of 17 points and 14 boards followed by Khyce Randall with 16 points, De'Marcus Hurd with 11, Shadd Cole with nine, Talen Davis-Renfro with eight, David Dingle with five, Donovan Jenkins with four and Rickey Guillory and Thomas Bingham with two points apiece.

McMurry converted just 31 percent (20 of 65) of its shots, including 19 percent (2 of 11) of its treys, while knocking down 73 percent (24 of 33) of its free throws — gaining a 13-point scoring edge over HPU at the charity stripe.

LaRandall Scroggins finished with 14 points for McMurry followed by 13 from Zacc Carter and 12 from Darius Watts.

The Yellow Jackets' opening run started with a three-pointer by Randall 29 seconds into the contest. Renfro-Davis added a layup and Guillory scored his only points as McMurry called a timeout, trailing 7-0, just 1:52 into the contest.

Renfro-Davis then drilled a three-pointer coming out of the break and Dingle knocked down a trey to cap the 13-point run. McMurry finally lit up the scoreboard 6:26 into the contest on a layup by Krishawn Terry, which cut Howard Payne's edge to 11 points.

McMurry reduced the Yellow Jackets' lead to five points, 18-13, at the 9:57 mark on another Terry bucket, but Howard Payne responded with the next six points — a layup by Bailey followed by a three-pointer and a free throw from Randall — to extend the advantage back to double digits, 24-13, with 8:13 left in the half.

HPU's first-half advantage peaked at 14 points, 35-21, on a trey by Hurd at the 1:06 mark.

In the second half, the Yellow Jackets matched their 14-point cushion, 56-42, with 12:02 left as Cole completed a traditional three-point play. McMurry scored the next six points to close the gap to 56-50 at 9:02, but Hurd answered with another trey for a 59-50 lead at 8:38.

Leading 69-61 with 3:16 to go, the Yellow Jackets surrendered four points in a row to McMurry over the next 1:15, but the Warhawks came no closer.

Howard Payne begins a string of five straight games at the Brownwood Coliseum at 7:30 p.m. when Mary Hardin-Baylor (10-5, 3-3) visits. UMHB is coming off Saturday's 96-90 victory over Concordia.