BELTON — The Howard Payne Lady Jackets held the East Texas Baptist Lady Tigers 28 points below their season average, but still weren’t able to produce enough points to pull off a first-round upset in the American Southwest Conference Women’s Basketball Championship Tournament Thursday night.
Howard Payne, the third seed from the West Division, was dealt a 45-43 season-ending loss by East No. 2 seed East Texas Baptist when Sydney Saxton buried the game-winning jumper with six seconds remaining.
The Lady Jackets (11-15) trailed the Lady Tigers (23-3) by nine points, 41-32, when the fourth period began. Howard Payne responded with 11 of the next 13 points, knotting the score at 43 on a jumper by Payge Grable with 36 seconds to go.
A jumper from Anastasia Willis at 8:21, then a three-pointer from Caprica Brooks with 4:18 left brought Howard Payne within 41-37. ETBU’s only other bucket in the quarter, aside from the game-winner, came with 3:17 to go as Erin Meeks knocked down a jumper to push the advantage to 43-37.
Grayble added a jumper at 2:02, then Chelsey Harris converted a pair of free throws with 1:49 left to bring the Lady Jackets within a bucket, 43-41.
Howard Payne — making its 16th straight ASC tournament appearance, and first under head coach Yannick Denson — trailed 16-10 after one quarter and 26-21 at halftime.
The Lady Jackets shot just 24 percent (15 of 63) from the floor, including 5 of 28 on three-pointers, and 67 percent (8 of 12) at the free throw line. Howard Payne forced 23 turnovers which led to 14 points, but was outrebounded 52-39 as East Texas Baptist owned a 12-6 edge in second-chance points.
Grable finished with a team-high 13 points for the Lady Jackets trailed by Harris and Brooks with 10 apiece, Willis and Chelsi Woodard with four each and Lily Janek with two points.
ETBU — which converted 33 percent (18 of 54) of its shots, but just 1 of 16 three-pointers and 50 percent (8 of 16) of its free throws — received 11 points each from Saxton and Amanda Wilson, and eight from Meeks.