The Howard Payne Lady Jackets squandered an 11-point fourth-quarter lead, rallied in the closing seconds of the first overtime, and finally emerged from the second overtime with a 97-92 victory over the Ozarks Lady Eagles — snapping a four-game American Southwest Conference losing streak — Thursday night at the Brownwood Coliseum.
Knotted at 87 with 1:36 left in the second overtime, Brownwood freshman Mallory Garcia drained a three-pointer that put Howard Payne (7-10, 3-5) up for good, 90-87. Following a missed three-pointer by Ozarks' (5-12, 0-8) Janna Rhinehart and HPU defensive rebound, Salina Ali, Bria Neal and Lily Janek added free throws to extend the Lady Jackets' lead to 93-87 with 37 seconds left.
Neal finished with a team-high 19 points for the Lady Jackets trailed by 18 points from Garcia, 16 from Janek, 14 each from Anastasia Willis and Chelsey Harris, seven from Julissa Ibarra, five from Ali, three from Delaney Ingram and a free throw from Catlyn Ward. Willis also pulled down a team-high 14 rebounds to complete a double-double.
HPU shot 43 percent (32 of 75) from the floor, including 31 percent (8 of 26) from the three-point arc, but just 53 percent (25 of 47) at the free throw line. The Lady Jackets forced 28 turnovers and committed 20, while the Lady Eagles owned a 52-44 edge in rebounds.
Ozarks drilled 46 percent (36 of 78) of its field goals, but only 18 percent (5 of 28) of its treys, and 68 percent (15 of 22) of its free throws.
Hannah Weatherford poured in a game-high 24 points for the Lady Eagles followed by 15 points and 18 rebounds from Carly Grace Dougan, 15 points from Rhinehart, 12 from Faith Curry, 10 from Kerigan Bradshaw, and 10 points and 10 boards from Kelsey Dixson.
Trailing by 11 points, 54-43, at the start of the fourth quarter, Ozarks scored 12 of the first 14 points to reduce the deficit to a single possession, 56-55, with 5:55 to go. HPU maintained the lead the rest of the way until Bradshaw forced overtime with a three-pointer with seven seconds left. HPU missed a chance to win the game at the buzzer on the other end.
In the first overtime, the Lady Jackets led 82-79 after a pair of Janek free throws with 23 seconds to go. Dixson was fouled on the other end and made the first of two free throws, but Rhinehart grabbed the offensive rebound and scored on the putback as HPU faced an 83-82 deficit with 11 seconds left.
Neal was fouled with seven seconds remaining and missed the first free throw, but sank the second to send the game into a second overtime.
Howard Payne opened a double-digit lead in the first quarter, 15-5, but Ozarks rallied in the second quarter and grabbed a 23-22 lead with 4:09 left in the half following a layup by Rhinehart. Neal pushed Howard Payne in front, 24-23, on HPU's next trip down the court. Later knotted at 25, Garcia drained another three-point to give the Lady Jackets at 28-25 edge at the 3:12 mark. Howard Payne went on to carry a 32-29 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
By the end of the third period, HPU had re-established a double-digit lead, 54-43. Clinging to a 34-33 lead at the 8:11 mark of the third, Howard Payne reeled off nine of the next 11 points to open a 43-35 lead with 5:36 left in the quarter. Neal began the surge with a layup followed by a trey from Janek and deuces from Ali and Willis.
The Lady Jackets will shoot for a second straight conference victory at 1 p.m. Saturday as UT-Dallas (13-4, 7-1) — coming off an 89-44 win at Sul Ross Thursday night — visits.