HPU overcomes 18-point deficit in regulation, six-point deficit in extra session

The American Southwest Conference West Division front-running Howard Payne Lady Jackets started their five-game home stand by falling behind 28-10 with 7:35 left in the first half.

A miraculous comeback allowed the Lady Jackets to force overtime, where they found themselves in another significant hole, 67-61, with 2:47 remaining.

However, when the final buzzer sounded Thursday night at the Brownwood Coliseum, it was the Lady Jackets who ended up in the win column, stunning Mary Hardin-Baylor by a 71-69 count.

Jada Evans banked in a runner in the lane with one second left in the extra session as HPU (11-7, 8-1) finished the game on a 10-2 run to shock Mary Hardin-Baylor (11-6, 4-4).

“These two games were big because as a coach this lets me know where their fight is,” said HPU head coach Meia Daniels-Netter, also referencing Saturday’s 51-48 win at McMurry in which the Lady Jackets tallied the final eight points, the last three coming at the buzzer. “Some teams, when they know they’re supposed to be the better team and an another team gets up on them, they can give up and say the other team got the best of them. But our girls stepped up and showed us that they have that fight.”

With the win, the Lady Jackets maintained a two-game lead in the ASC West over Sul Ross (9-9, 6-3), which hammered Concordia, 74-49, Thursday.

Tied at 61 at the end of regulation after HPU’s Sarahi Castillo missed a pair of free throws following a technical foul with seven-tenths of a second remaining, UMHB recorded the first six points of overtime.

Trailing 67-61, the Lady Jackets’ closing flourish began with a three-pointer by Sabrina Ochoa at 2:15, which cut UMHB’s lead in half. Following a pair of free throws by UMHB’s Meghan Turner, a bucket in the paint from Micah Cisneroz with 1:46 to go brought Howard Payne within a trey, 69-66.

With 52 seconds remaining, Evans — who finished with 12 points — drained a three-pointer that evened the score at 69. UMHB then missed a trey at the other end with 30 seconds left, setting up the last-second heroics.

Howard Payne — which shot just 30 percent (25 of 83) from the floor and 55 percent (16 of 29) at the free throw line — forced 34 UMHB turnovers which led to 37 points. The Lady Jackets also owned a 53-49 edge in rebounds.

Mary Hardin-Baylor sank 39 percent (23 of 59) of its field goals and 63 percent (20 of 35) of its free throws, but of the 20 HPU turnovers forced only 18 points resulted.

Cisneroz led the Lady Jackets with 22 points followed by Evans’ dozen, nine from Ochoa, eight from Djimonii Jackson, seven each from Castillo and Valarie Matlock, four from Arriyanna Forch and two points from Dominique Featherstone.

UMHB received a double-double of 20 points and 13 rebounds from Kendra Wynn, eight points from Jonelle Smith and seven each from Antoinette Iroko and Antania Newton.

The Lady Jackets host Concordia (10-7, 3-5) at 1 p.m. Saturday.