The Howard Payne Yellow Jackets remained within striking distance throughout much of their American Southwest Conference tilt with UT-Dallas, but the Comets left the Brownwood Coliseum with an 81-74 victory Saturday afternoon.
The loss was the 16th in a row for the Yellow Jackets (1-17, 0-9), who are still seeking their first ASC victory and first win since Nov. 15. UT-Dallas, currently in second place in the ASC East, improved to 13-5 overall and 7-2 in league play.
Howard Payne shot 41 percent (26 of 63) from the floor and buried a dozen three-pointers, to go along with 77 percent (10 of 13) accuracy on its free throws. But UT-Dallas knocked down 44 percent (30 of 68) of its shots, including eight treys, and converted 68 percent (13 of 19) percent of its free throws.
The Comets also owned a 53-29 edge in rebounds, including 21 on the offensive end, which led to an 18-8 advantage in second-chance points.
Meanwhile, the Yellow Jackets forced 19 turnovers and committed just 11, as HPU owned a 20-8 edge in points off turnovers.
Jase Miguez again paced Howard Payne with 20 points trailed by 15 from Jacob Smith, 13 from Jayden Modrall, nine from Evan Adkins, seven from Jaylan Ballou, four from Colton Otts and three points apiece from Luke Cox and Talen Davis.
UT-Dallas received 20 points from Kelden Pruitt, 17 points and 10 rebounds from Hans Burwitz and 14 points from Michael Forster.
With 7:37 remaining, the Yellow Jackets trailed by just three points, 61-58, after a layup by Miguez. Over the next 41 seconds, UT-Dallas reeled off six points to quickly pad its cushion to 67-58 at the 6:56 mark.
Down as many as a dozen points, Howard Payne trimmed the deficit back to single digits, 77-68, with 59 seconds left on a trey by Modrall. Later, buckets from Miguez and Smith allowed HPU to creep within six points, 78-72, with 34 seconds to go. UT-Dallas prevented the Yellow Jackets from getting any closer.
Howard Payne spotted the Comets the game's first seven points before closing the gap to 14-13 on a bucket by Miguez with 12:26 left in the opening half. UT-Dallas gradually extended its lead to double figures, but a three-pointer by Otts with 27 seconds left before intermission brought the Yellow Jackets within 45-37 at the break.
The Yellow Jackets' next chance to return to the win column comes at 3 p.m. Saturday at ASC West leader Sul Ross (10-8, 7-2), which is coming off an 84-78 victory over Ozarks. Howard Payne dropped its first meeting with Sul Ross, 97-80, in Brownwood on Dec. 21.