HPU falls to Sul Ross, 81-75, hosts Louisiana College Thursday night

ALPINE — The Howard Payne Lady Jackets are limping into this weekend’s American Southwest Conference women’s basketball championship tournament at the Brownwood Coliseum with a losing streak, dropping their season straight contest, 81-75 at Sul Ross Saturday afternoon.

After winning 12 of their first 14 American Southwest Conference outings to capture the West Division title and tournament hosting rights, the Lady Jackets (15-10, 12-4) have since fallen in overtime at Mary Hardin-Baylor, 79-75, to go along with Saturday’s defeat at Sul Ross (10-15, 7-9).

Even more troubling than the lack of momentum HPU is carrying into the postseason is the fact that the Lady Jackets surrendered an average of 80 points per game in the two losses — a dozen more than the 68 points per game Howard Payne is allowing on the season.

Saturday against Sul Ross, the Lady Jackets gave up at least 16 points every quarter as the Lady Lobos shot 46 percent (23 of 50) from the floor, including 50 percent (9 of 18) from the three-point arc. Sul Ross also converted 26 of 33 free throws, outscoring Howard Payne by 15 points at the charity stripe, and the Lady Lobos owned a resounding 41-31 edge in rebounds as well.

Howard Payne, which was tied for 2:48 of the contest with Sul Ross but never led, converted 40 percent (28 of 70) of its shots and 33 percent (8 of 24) of its three-pointers, and also sank 85 percent (11 of 13) of its free throws, but got to the line 20 fewer times.

Micah Cisneroz poured in a team-high 22 points for HPU while back-to-back ASC West Player of the Week Sarahi Castillo added 13, as her string of consecutive 20-point games ended at five. Presley McKethan and Alexandria Davis contributed eight points apiece for the Lady Jackets followed by seven from Dominique Featherstone, six each from Sabrina Ochoa and Jada Evans and five points from Valarie Matlock.

Sul Ross, which will be making its first-ever appearance in the ASC tournament in Brownwood later this week, received 24 points from Katy Boren, 13 from Ellyn Avery and 12 from Ashley Ousley.

Tied at 16 after one quarter, Sul Ross opened a 43-39 advantage at halftime that stood at 65-59 through three periods. The Lady Lobos’ lead peaked at 12 points, 69-57, with 2:38 remaining.

The Lady Jackets — who are 8-2 at home this season — will open ASC tournament action at 7:30 p.m. Thursday against the East Division No. 4 seed Louisiana College Lady Cats (8-15, 7-9). Louisiana College is coming off a 94-92 loss at Belhaven Saturday and dropped an 87-85 home decision to Howard Payne on Jan. 3.

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WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENT

at The Brownwood Coliseum

Thursday, Feb. 23 - Saturday, Feb. 25

Game 1: (W2) Mary Hardin-Baylor vs. (E3) LeTourneau, Noon Thursday

Game 2: (E1) UT-Dallas vs. (W4) Sul Ross State, 2:30 p.m. Thursday

Game 3: (E2) UT-Tyler vs. (W3) Concordia Texas, 5 p.m. Thursday

Game 4: (W1) Howard Payne vs. (E4) Louisiana College, 7:30 p.m. Thursday

Game 5: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 5 p.m. Friday

Game 6: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4, 7:30 p.m. Friday

Game 7 (CHAMPIONSHIP): Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6, 6 p.m. Saturday