Seeking a 2-0 start to American Southwest Conference women's basketball action with their second straight league outing at the Brownwood Coliseum, the Howard Payne Lady Jackets instead were handed a 75-71 defeat by the Belhaven Lady Blazers.
Howard Payne (5-6, 1-1) erased a 22-point second-half deficit and drew even in the fourth period, but Belhaven (8-2, 1-0) persevered for its first conference victory in a game that featured 55 turnovers along with 74 three-point tries and 81 free throw attempts.
The Lady Jackets shot just 29 percent (23 of 80) from the floor and 19 percent (6 of 31) from three-point land, as well as 61 percent (19 of 31) at the free throw line. Belhaven, meanwhile, sank just 25 percent (18 of 73) of its shots, 16 percent (7 of 43) of its treys, and 64 percent (32 of 50) of its free throws.
Howard Payne pulled down 70 rebounds to Belhaven's 59, but the Lady Jackets committed 32 turnovers while creating 23. Belhaven scored 26 points off turnovers to HPU's 14.
Chelsey Harris led the Lady Jackets with 20 points trailed by 12 points and 10 rebounds from Bria Neal, nine points from Lily Janek, seven from Mallory Garcia, six from Catlyn Ward, five from Julissa Ibarra and four points apiece from Salina Ali, Anastasia Willis and Delaney Ingram, who pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds.
Belhaven received 21 points and 10 rebounds from Peyton Papenburg, 20 points from Keke Lyles, 13 points and 10 boards from Sydney Martin and 10 points from Mariah Collins.
Trailing 56-34 with 54 seconds remaining in the third period, the Lady Jackets closed the gap to eight points, 56-48, with 7:51 left in the game as part of a 14-point run. The spurt began with two free throws from Harris, another from Ward, a layup by Ibarra, a trey from Ward, Janek's three-pointer, and a triple from Ibarra.
At the 5:37 mark, HPU reduced the deficit to six points, 62-56, on a layup by Ingram. A trey from Janek then brought the Lady Jackets within five, 64-59, with 5:07 left. Neal then trimmed the deficit to four points, 67-63, on a bucket with 3:27 remaining. Neal added a pair of free throws with 2:47 left, reducing Belhaven's lead to 67-65. Harris then pulled Howard Payne even at 67 on a layup with 2:11 remaining.
Belhaven answered with a pair of Martin free throws, then a layup from Collins to reestablish a 71-67 edge with 1:54 to go, which grew to six points, 74-68, with 68 seconds left.
A three-pointer from Garcia brought HPU within a trey, 74-71, with 58 seconds remaining, but the Lady Jackets committed turnovers on two of their final three possessions and a missed a trey with eight seconds left.
In the first half, Howard Payne was plagued ice cold shooting as it trailed 37-26 at the break.
Howard Payne converted just 21 percent (8 of 38) percent of its first-half shots, including 7 percent (1 of 14) of its three-pointers, and 64 percent (9 of 14) of its free throws. The Lady Jackets finished with 19 turnovers but owned a 39-30 edge in rebounds.
Belhaven sank just 27 percent (12 of 44) percent of its field goals, including 16 percent (4 of 25) of its treys, and only 56 percent (9 of 16) of its free throw attempts.
The Lady Jackets yielded 15 of the game's first 17 points and found themselves down by 13 with 3:02 left in the first period. Howard Payne committed 14 turnovers in the opening 10 minutes which led to 14 Belhaven points. Meanwhile, the Lady Jackets forced five Belhaven turnovers but did not score off any as HPU shot just 18 percent (3 of 17) in the first period.
Trailing 19-10 at the start of the second period, the Lady Jackets crept within four points, 21-17, on a layup by Harris at the 7:09 mark, but Belhaven answered with back-to-back threes from Keke Lyles to stretch the lead back to double digits, 27-17, With 6:24 left before halftime. At the break, the Lady Jackets were in a 37-26 hole.
The Lady Jackets will host Louisiana College at 1 p.m. Saturday in another ASC battle.