Seeking their first victory since Nov. 15, the Howard Payne Yellow Jackets instead were dealt their eighth straight American Southwest Conference defeat and 15th consecutive loss overall, 80-72 at the hands of the Ozarks Eagles Thursday night at the Brownwood Coliseum.
The Yellow Jackets (1-16, 0-8) surrendered 14 of the game's first 18 points to Ozarks (6-11, 2-6), under the direction of former Howard Payne assistant Travis Carruthers, and were forced into catch-up mode throughout the night.
Howard Payne closed the gap to two points twice in the opening half, the first at 25-23 on a bucket by Jase Miguez at the 4:50 juncture. Ozarks answered with six straight points then HPU fired back with six points of its own as Jaylen Ballou shaved the deficit to 31-29 with 14 seconds left. However, Cordy Winston drained a trey for Ozarks with three seconds on the clock to give the Eagles a 34-29 halftime edge.
In the second half, a trey by Miguez brought Howard Payne within a bucket, 40-38, at the 17:17 mark. Ozarks responded with a 10-2 run to open a 50-40 advantage with 13:23 to go.
Trailing by as many as dozen points, the Yellow Jackets crept with seven, 56-49, following a traditional three-point play by Talen Davis with 9:54 remaining. But the Eagles quickly stretched the lead back to 12 points, 64-52, with 7:02 left.
Howard Payne got no closer than seven points the rest of the way with the Ozarks' lead peaking at 15 points, 73-58, with 3:29 remaining.
Ozarks shot 50 percent (32 of 64) from the floor, including 25 percent (5 of 20) from beyond the three-point arc, along with 65 percent (11 of 17) at the free throw line.
Jacobe Davis led the Eagles with 18 points trailed by Winston with 15 and Tim Turpin with 12.
HPU knocked down 47 percent (30 of 64) of its shots, including 25 percent (6 of 24) of its three-pointers, along with 60 percent (6 of 10) of its free throws. The Yellow Jackets were outrebounded, 41-32, and both teams committed 10 turnovers.
Miguez poured in 27 points for Howard Payne followed by Jacob Smith with nine, Davis with eight, Tyrell Thompson with seven, Kyle Kildare with six, Jayden Modrall with five, Ballou with four and Joshua Taylor, Luke Cox and Evan Adkins with two points apiece.
The Yellow Jackets will host UT-Dallas (12-5, 6-2) — coming off a 68-65 loss at Sul Ross Thursday night — at 3 p.m. Saturday.