AUSTIN — The Howard Payne Yellow Jackets pulled off a much-needed upset to keep their postseason hopes alive with Saturday's 93-84 road victory over the Concordia Tornados.
The win ended a string of five consecutive losses for the Yellow Jackets (8-12, 5-7), who moved back within a game of the fourth-place tie between McMurry (7-12, 5-7) Hardin-Simmons (7-13, 5-7) with five games left. The top four teams from each division advance to the American Southwest Conference championship tournament.
Concordia (13-7, 7-5), meanwhile, missed out on a chance to move into sole possession of second place in the ASC West and remained tied with Mary Hardin-Baylor (14-6, 7-5) three games back of front-runner Sul Ross (15-5, 10-2).
Leading 42-40 at halftime, the Yellow Jackets responded with 51 second-half points to pull away for the victory.
HPU shot 46 percent (34 of 74) from the floor, including 41 percent (7 of 17) from three-point land, and knocked down 67 percent (18 of 27) of its free throws. The Yellow Jackets also owned a 47-39 edge in rebounds, which led to a 23-10 advantage in second-chance points. Howard Payne also forced 19 turnovers and scored 22 points off the turnovers.
Khyce Randall followed his 30-point outing at Mary Hardin-Baylor Thursday with 37 points against Concordia, knocking down 10 of 20 shots including 5 of 10 three-pointers. Darren Farmer and Shadd Cole also finished in double figures with 18 and 15 points, respectively. Also contributing offensively for the Yellow Jackets were Talen Davis and Joshua Taylor with five points each, Timothy Aguero and Cole Bene' with four points apiece, Cody Hastings with three and Rickey Guillory with two points.
Concordia received 21 points from Ben Page, 18 from Philip Meikle, 16 from Joe Neal and 14 from Ronnie Hamilton.
Howard Payne got off to a dreadful start, falling behind 21-6 just 5:21 into the contest. Still down by a dozen, 36-24, with 8:13 left in the first half, the Yellow Jackets pieced together an 18-4 run to seize a two-point halftime advantage.
A three-pointer by Randall at 1:15 allowed the Yellow Jackets to even the score at 40, and Aguero's layup with 13 seconds left capped a string of 10 unanswered points Howard Payne used to take the lead.
The Yellow Jackets were able to stretch their lead to double figures, 64-54, with 13:30 to go when Bene' scored on a layup. The bucket capped an 11-2 spurt for HPU after Concordia crept within 53-52 at the 16:30 mark.
Concordia again closed the gap to one point, 69-68, with 9:04 to go but Howard Payne responded with six straight points from Cole to push the lead back to 75-70 with 8:03 remaining.
The Tornados got no closer than three the rest of the way, and Howard Payne put a stranglehold on the contest with a run of six straight points — two each by Randall, Farmer and Cole — that increased the lead to 85-76 with 4:32 remaining.
The Yellow Jackets, who are off until Saturday, will attempt to take down ASC West leader Sul Ross at the Brownwood Coliseum in their next outing.