In a complete role reversal, Howard Payne flipped the script from its season-opening, 29-point non-conference loss to UT-Tyler as the Lady Jackets trounced the Lady Patriots, 70-48, Thursday night in an American Southwest Conference tilt at the Brownwood Coliseum.
The victory was the fifth in a row for the defending ASC West champion Lady Jackets (8-5, 4-1), who remained a half-game back of both Mary Hardin-Baylor (12-2, 5-1) and McMurry (7-5, 5-1) for the top spot in the division.
“We’ve improved a lot,” Lady Jackets head coach Meia Daniels-Netter said when comparing Thursday’s outing with the season opener against UT-Tyler. “Seeing the girls and where they are now from where they were then is a lot different. Watching film from the first time, we had so many possessions where no one was guarding anybody. Today everybody was guarding somebody and if we did screw up, that was the only time they really scored.”
Howard Payne limited UT-Tyler (7-6, 3-3) to 38 percent shooting (16 of 42) with 23 turnovers that accounted for 24 Lady Jacket points. The Lady Jackets also owned a 39-32 edge in rebounds.
“We’ve been putting in some different defenses,” Daniels-Netter said. “Teams have got used to us pressing and playing aggressive man to man, but we’ve got some other defenses up our sleeve. You play a team once and they see one thing, then we play them again and they’re thinking this isn’t what they prepared for. I’m really proud of the girls for being able to switch it up.”
Leading 17-12 after one quarter, the Lady Jackets seized control of the contest with a 24-12 scoring edge in the second period en route to 41-24 halftime cushion.
Trailing 12-11 with 1:45 left in the first period, a traditional three-point play from Chelsey Harris put HPU in front for good, 14-12. ASC West Player of the Week Jada Evans then drilled a trey with 51 seconds left as the Lady Jackets closed the quarter on a 6-0 run.
Leading 20-17 with 8:16 left in the first half, the Lady Jackets reeled off eight straight points — four by Harris, three by Caprica Brooks and a free throw from Evans — to open a double-digit lead of 28-17 at the 5:15 mark. UT-Tyler went scoreless for a 3:27 stretch during the run.
HPU also held the Lady Patriots off the scoreboard the final 2:20 of the opening half, as a pair of Presley McKethan threes and a bucket from Valarie Matlock extended the lead to 17 points by halftime.
The Lady Jackets’ lead reached 20 points, 48-28, on a pair of Evans free throws with 7:11 left in the third period. The advantage peaked at 25 points, 70-45, after a McKethan free throw with 1:34 remaining.
Evans led HPU with 15 points trailed by 14 from McKethan, 10 from Brooks, nine points and 10 boards from Matlock, nine points from Harris, seven from Dominique Featherstone, four from Anastasia Willis and two points and 10 rebounds from Chelsi Woodard.
For UT-Tyler, Carissa Spiker finished with 13 points while Alex Kochner and Bianca Valderrama added 10 apiece.
The Lady Jackets shoot for their sixth straight win at 2 p.m. Saturday against Ozarks (1-9, 0-5), which invade the Coliseum after a 84-57 loss to Sul Ross Thursday night.