HPU moves within a half-game of ASC West leader Hardin-Simmons

The Howard Payne Yellow Jackets surrendered 21 of the game’s first 25 points, but controlled the rest of the action as they stormed back for a 75-70 victory over Mary Hardin-Baylor Thursday night.

Playing the first of five straight games at the Brownwood Coliseum, HPU (11-6, 7-2) dug a 17-point hole, 21-4, just eight minutes in thanks to a 14-percent shooting effort.

By halftime, however, the Mary Hardin-Baylor (11-6, 4-4) advantage stood at just one point, 31-30, as the Yellow Jackets went on a 26-10 run over the final 11:59 of the opening half.

After yielding the first two buckets of the second half, the Yellow Jackets fired back with an 18-5 surge as Howard Payne opened a 48-40 edge with 13:37 remaining and never trailed again.

“We stuck with our game plan and didn’t get rattled, and we’ve done a good job of not getting rattled this year,” said HPU head coach Troy Drummond. “I felt like we did a good job defensively, UMHB just hit some good shots early. Then it helped a lot when our shots started to fall.

“I’m proud of our guys for not giving up and believing in what we’re doing. We continued on and got the win.”

With the victory, the Yellow Jackets moved within a half-game of Hardin-Simmons (13-4, 7-1) — which was off Thursday — for the top spot in the American Southwest Conference West Division standings.

ASC West Player of the Week Khyce Randall led HPU — which shot 40 percent (24 of 67) — with 28 points, followed by Rickey Guillory with 14 despite foul trouble, and J Bailey with nine points, 11 rebounds and eight blocks. Also scoring were Donovan Jenkins, De’Marcus Hurd and Talen Davis-Renfro with six points apiece, David Dingle with four and Jordan Hamilton with two.

UMHB hit 33 percent (22 of 67) of its field goals, led by Demarius Cress with 20 points.

HPU hosts Concordia (11-6, 5-3) — an 82-69 winner at Sul Ross Thursday — at 3 p.m. Saturday.