AUSTIN — The Howard Payne Lady Jackets needed overtime, but pushed their win streak to five games as they escaped with a 70-65 road victory over the Concordia Lady Tornados Thursday night.
Leading by as many as nine points in the fourth quarter, the victory almost slipped away as a 3:09 dry spell allowed Concordia to grab a 60-58 advantage with 10 seconds left. HPU's Chelsey Harris, the Lady Jackets' leading scoring, ended the drought with a pair of free throws, and Concordia was unable to score in the closing seconds, forcing the extra session.
In overtime, the Lady Jackets built a 64-61 lead, but Concordia drew even at 64 with 1:35 to go on a three-pointer by Kaycie Dunkerley. Harris then put HPU back in front for good, 66-64, on a layup with 43 seconds to go.
Payton Berger converted just one of two free throws for Concordia with 22 seconds to go, then Payge Grable and Anastasia Willis iced the game for HPU with a combined four free throws down the stretch for the five-point margin.
The Lady Jackets (11-13, 8-7) venture to ASC West champion and conference tournament host Mary Hardin-Baylor (22-2, 14-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday for the regular-season finale. Meanwhile, Concordia (7-17, 3-12) dropped out of postseason contention with the loss as it trails fourth-place McMurry by 1.5 games with only one game left.
Howard Payne overcame a 34 percent shooting effort (23 of 68), including just 1 of 11 from three-point range, by knocking down 23 of 33 free throws (70 percent). Concordia drained 37 percent (20 of 54) of its field goal attempts, including 10 of 25 from beyond the three-point arc, and was 15 of 22 (68 percent) at the charity stripe.
The Lady Jackets owned a 52-36 edge in rebounds, which led to a 10-3 margin in second-chance points. Howard Payne also forced 33 turnovers, which resulted in 28 points, while Concordia tallied 19 points off 29 Lady Jacket giveaways.
Harris, the ASC West Co-Player of the Week, finished with a game-high 18 points for the Lady Jackets trailed by 15 from Caprica Brooks, eight points and 11 rebounds from Willis, eight points from Chelsi Woodard, seven each from Grable and Lily Janek, four from Julissa Ibarra and three points from Salina Ali.
Berger led Concordia with 19 points and Dunkerley contributed a dozen.
After trailing for most of the first half, Howard Payne scored the final nine points over the last 3:14 of the first half to seize a 29-27 edge at the break. Janek contributed four points, Harris chipped in three and Brooks added a bucket.
The Lady Jackets then started the third period with the first eight points — four each by Brooks and Willis — capping a 17-2 spurt that established a double-digit cushion, 37-27, just 1:57 into the half.
HPU's lead peaked at 12 points, 53-41, on a layup by Janek with 5:04 left in the third.
Howard Payne carried a 50-41 advantage into the fourth period and seemed to have control of the contest until the scoring drought in the final three-plus minutes.