In a game of massive momentum swings, the Howard Payne Yellow Jackets' late surge ran short of time as the Sul Ross Lobos chalked up an 82-78 victory in American Southwest Conference action Saturday afternoon at the Brownwood Coliseum.
The Yellow Jackets (3-13, 1-6), who opened the game with 17 of the first 21 points, almost erased a Sul Ross (8-8, 3-4) lead of 18 points over the final 12 minutes.
Clinging to a one-point halftime advantage, the Yellow Jackets found themselves in a 67-49 hole with 12:09 left on the clock. Still down by 17 points, 71-54, with 10:23 to go, Howard Payne began to gradually whittle away at the Sul Ross lead.
Free throws and a bucket from Colton Otts, followed by two Eliajah Pruett free throws and a layup from Thomas Bingham allowed the Yellow Jackets to climb within double figures, 71-62, at the 5:53 mark.
Howard Payne got no closer than seven points until the final minute. Down 80-71, Bingham again scored in the paint, then Luke Cox knocked down a three-pointer to trim the deficit to 80-76 with 35 seconds to go.
Sul Ross' Cole Avery sank one of two free throws with 33 seconds to go, but Bingham again scored inside with 24 ticks on the clock, reducing Sul Ross' lead to a single possession, 81-78.
Conner Dawson delivered on one of two free throw attempts for Sul Ross with 15 seconds to go, and HPU missed its final field goal attempt as the Lobos escaped with the victory.
Howard Payne shot 39 percent (29 of 74) from the floor, including six three-pointers, and 70 percent (14 of 20) at the free throw line. The Yellow Jackets owned a 51-47 edge in rebounds, but committed 22 turnovers while causing 19.
Shadd Cole led the Yellow Jackets with 18 points trailed by Timothy Aguero with 15, Cox with 11, Bingham and Javaris Jones with 10 apiece, Otts with six, Pruitt with four and Talen Davis and Joshua Taylor with two points each.
Sul Ross — which owned a 62-52 edge in points in the paint and 21-14 edge in points off turnovers — knocked down 42 percent (28 of 67) of its field goal attempts, with 11 treys, which helped overcome 58 percent (15 of 26) free throw shooting.
Tristen Licon paced the Lobo offense with 22 points followed by 11 from Brady's B.J. Hollis, 10 each from Jola Dtubu and Jack Kirkpatrick, nine apiece from Avery and Brayden Fry, eight from Conner Dawson and three points from Jezreel Griffin.
After surrendering the first bucket of the game to Dawson, the Yellow Jackets answered with seven points in a row — a tying bucket from Bingham, a three-pointer by Cole and then two Cole free throws. Dawson's second field goal made the score 7-4, then HPU reeled off 10 unanswered points — three each by Jones and Cole, and two apiece by Bingham and Aguero — as the lead stood at 17-4 with 14:42 left in the first half.
Sul Ross worked its way back, grabbing a 35-34 lead on a three-pointer by Licon with 1:31 left in the first half. Cole scored the final points of the half 16 seconds later, as Howard Payne carried a slim 36-35 edge into the halftime locker room.
HPU will continue to search for its first conference victory since the ASC opener when it ventures to Hardin-Simmons (9-8, 4-4) — which is coming off an 87-80 loss to ASC West leader Concordia — at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.