HPU still two games back of top spot, but only one game out of fourth place

The Howard Payne Yellow Jackets were unable to gain ground in their pursuit of the American Southwest Conference West Division crown Saturday, as the Sul Ross Lobos snapped a four-game skid and handed HPU its second straight loss, 77-73, at the Brownwood Coliseum.

Despite the defeat, Howard Payne (11-8, 7-4) remained two games back of ASC West leader Hardin-Simmons (15-5, 9-2), which fell at Concordia by a 95-89 count Saturday. Concordia (14-6, 8-3) moved ahead of HPU and into sole possession of second place with the victory.

Sul Ross (10-10, 6-5) and Mary Hardin-Baylor (13-7, 6-5) — which knocked off McMurry, 74-70 — inched closer to the Yellow Jackets after Saturday’s results, as the fourth-place duo moved within one game of third-place Howard Payne.

Against Sul Ross Saturday, the Yellow Jackets shot just 35 percent (19 of 54) from the floor compared to 49 percent (28 of 57) by the visiting Lobos. Howard Payne attempted to make up for the difference beyond the three-point arc, where the Yellow Jackets drained eight treys to Sul Ross’ five, and at the free throw line, where HPU recorded 27 points and gave up 16.

De’Marcus Hurd led Howard Payne with a 19-point scoring effort followed by 17 from Rickey Guillory and 13 from two-time ASC West Player of the Week Khyce Randall. David Dingle chipped in seven points followed by J Bailey with six and a team-high nine rebounds, Talen Davis-Renfro with five points, Jordan Hamilton with three, Donovan Jenkins with two and Shadd Cole with one point.

Sul Ross was sparked by the double-double of Caleb Thomasson, who poured in 27 points and yanked down 14 rebounds. Brock Anders also finished in double figures with 17 points trailed by nine from Jacob Dawson, eight from Brady’s B.J. Hollis, seven from C.J. Ross, six from Conner Dawson and three points from Xavier Webb.

The Lobos built a 37-28 halftime advantage that Howard Payne trimmed to four points, 45-41, with 13:32 left on a three-pointer by Guillory. Sul Ross countered with a 17-7 spurt to open its largest lead of the contest, 62-48, following a three-pointer by Anders with 7:40 remaining.

With 5:16 to go, the Yellow Jackets crept back within single digits as a bucket from Guillory made the score 64-56.

A trey by Hurd brought Howard Payne within two possessions, making the score 70-64 with 2:03 left. The final two minutes for Sul Ross were essentially spent at the free throw line, and though the Lobos converted just 53 of their attempts, Sul Ross tallied enough points down the stretch to hold off a Yellow Jacket rally.

Howard Payne will attempt to snap a two-game skid when it hosts McMurry (8-11, 4-7) at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

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ASC MEN’S BASKETBALL

WEST DIVISION

Conf. Overall

W L W L

Hardin-Simmons 9 2 15 5

Concordia 8 3 14 6

Howard Payne 7 4 11 8

Mary Hardin-Baylor 6 5 13 7

Sul Ross 6 5 10 10

*McMurry 4 7 8 11

* ineligible for postseason/reclassifying

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EAST DIVISION

Conf. Overall

W L W L

LeTourneau 9 3 16 4

UT-Tyler 8 4 14 6

East Texas Baptist 4 7 12 7

UT-Dallas 4 7 6 13

Ozarks 1 10 6 12

Louisiana College 1 10 4 13

*Belhaven x x 3 16

* ineligible for postseason/provisional

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Saturday’s Games

Sul Ross 77, Howard Payne 73

Mary Hardin-Baylor 74, McMurry 70

Concordia 95, Hardin-Simmons 89

LeTourneau 88, Louisiana College 68

UT-Tyler 92, East Texas Baptist 78

Belhaven 96, Ozarks 90