HPU shoots 69 percent from floor, scores 59 points in second half

JACKSON, Mississippi — Trailing by 14 at halftime, and 15 with 92 seconds left before intermission, the Howard Payne Yellow Jackets stormed back to pick up their first American Southwest Conference basketball victory, 96-84 over the Belhaven Blazers Thursday night.

Down 51-37 at halftime, the Yellow Jackets (3-5, 1-2) outscored Belhaven (2-5, 1-2) by a 59-33 count in the second half.

HPU shot 69 percent (20 of 29) in the second half compared to Belhaven’s 43 percent (10 of 23).

Khyce Randall led the Yellow Jacket charge with a double-double of 27 points and 17 rebounds. DeMarcus Hurd chipped in 20 points followed by Timothy Aguero with 19, Darren Farmer with 11, Drake Cooper with five, Cole Bene’ with four, Colton Otts and Thomas Bingham with three points each and Shadd Cole and Cody Hastings with two points apiece.

Brent Webber led Belhaven with 12 points while Kyle Patterson was the only other Blazer to reach double figures with 10.

After whittling the deficit to eight points, 65-57, with 11:46 to go, HPU went on a 9-0 run to grab a 66-65 lead following a free throw by Otts with 8:30 left. Randall and Aguero chipped in four points each during the run.

Knotted at 67, the Jackets tallied eight of the next nine points to open a 75-68 advantage with 5:31 left. Three points each from Aguero and Hurd and two from Randall triggered the run.

After Belhaven closed to within 75-71, HPU answered with 11 of the next 15 points to establish an 86-75 cushion with 3:14 left.

The Yellow Jackets’ lead peaked at 17 points, 94-77, following a pair of Hurd free throws with 44 seconds remaining.

HPU will attempt to win its second straight conference game at 4 p.m. Saturday at Louisiana College (1-5, 0-3) — a 71-58 loser against Sul Ross Thursday night.