ABILENE — With their second American Southwest Conference victory in the last three outings, the Howard Payne Lady Jackets have vaulted into a third-place tie in the West Division following Saturday’s 67-63 road triumph over McMurry.
The Lady Jackets (6-12, 3-6) jumped McMurry (6-13, 3-7) in the league standings with the win, and pulled even with Concordia (7-11, 3-6), which suffered a 79-54 loss to ASC West front-runner Mary Hardin-Baylor (17-1, 9-0) — which visits the Brownwood Coliseum at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
Knotted at 61 with 39 seconds left following a three-pointer by McMurry’s London Weilert, Howard Payne retook the lead, 63-61, when Chelsi Woodard scored in the paint with 21 seconds to go.
McMurry committed a turnover on its ensuing possession, then HPU’s Payge Grable was fouled and converted a pair of free throws, pushing the Lady Jackets’ advantage to two possessions, 65-61, with 10 seconds left.
Isaebal Carrion scored for McMurry with two seconds remaining, cutting HPU’s lead to 65-63, but Grable was again fouled when the ball was inbounded and sank two more free throws for the final four-point margin.
The game was tied at 48 entering the fourth period, and McMurry owned a 56-50 lead at the midway point of the quarter, but buckets by Chelsey Harris, Salina Ali and Anastasia Willis allowed the Lady Jackets to even the score at 56 with 3:59 to go.
Howard Payne capped an 11-0 run with a layup by Grable, which put the Lady Jackets ahead, 58-56, and a three-point play by Harris, which made the score 61-56 in favor of Howard Payne at the 2:17 mark.
The Lady Jackets shot 51 percent (23 of 45) from the floor, including 50 percent (6 of 12) from three-point range. Though Howard Payne sank just 50 percent (15 of 30) of its free throws and committed 20 turnovers while forcing 14, the Lady Jackets did own a 34-30 edge in rebounds and 20-8 advantage in bench points.
Harris again led the offensive charge for Howard Payne with 29 points trailed by Grable with 11, Willis with 10, Ail and Woodard with six apiece, Julissa Ibarra with three and Caprica Brooks with two points.
McMurry knocked down 41 percent (22 of 53) of its shots and only 22 percent (5 of 23) of its treys, but did convert 82 percent (14 of 17) of its free throw opportunities.
Skyler Reyna led McMurry with a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Carrion and Weilert also finished in double figures with 13 and 11 points, respectively.