On an afternoon where the 1994-95 TIAA conference champion Howard Payne men's basketball team was honored, the 2019-20 Yellow Jackets snapped a 20-game losing streak, earning their first win since Nov. 15, a 78-77 triumph over McMurry at the Brownwood Coliseum.
The Yellow Jackets (2-21, 1-13) dropped their previous outing at American Southwest Conference rival McMurry (7-16, 4-10) on Jan. 9 by a 98-96 count in overtime on a bucket that was overturned due to time expiring.
Howard Payne had also battled Belhaven to overtime back on Jan. 2 at the Brownwood Coliseum, but came up short, 101-96. The Yellow Jackets' only other win this season came at Texas Lutheran, 78-69, in their second outing.
In Saturday's win — which featured 14 lead changes — the Yellow Jackets converted 43 percent (29 of 68) of their field goals, 33 percent (10 of 33) of their three-pointers, and 53 percent (10 of 19) of their free throws.
Jase Miguez sparked the Yellow Jacket offense with 20 points trailed by nine apiece from Luke Cox, Jayden Modrall and Jaylan Ballou, eight each from Javaris Jones and Tyrell Thompson, six from Talen Davis, five from Jacob Smith and four points from Kyle Kildare.
McMurry struggled offensively in all aspects, draining just 38 percent (29 of 76) of its shots, 30 percent (10 of 33) of its treys, and a mere 43 percent (9 of 21) of its free throws. The War Hawks owned a 52-40 edge in rebounds, but committed 21 turnovers while creating 19.
Dedrick Berry Jr. poured in 18 points to pace McMurry trailed by 16 from Khalil Butler, 11 from Krishawn Terry, and 10 points from Mike Williams Jr. — who scored 30 in the first meeting.
Knotted at 43 at halftime, Howard Payne found itself in a 64-57 hole with 9:36 left in the game. Back-to-back three-pointers from Modrall and Jones lit the fuse for a 15-3 Yellow Jackets' run, as HPU opened a 72-67 advantage with 5:06 left.
The consecutive treys drew the Yellow Jackets within 64-63. Down 67-63, a jumper from Modrall and a traditional three-play play by Ballou at the 5:54 mark staked Howard Payne to a 68-67 lead. Miguez and Ballou later followed with buckets to cap the run.
McMurry trimmed the deficit to 74-71 at the 3:28 mark, then Miguez knocked down a three at the 2:02 juncture to push the HPU lead to 77-71.
The Yellow Jackets managed just one free throw the rest of the way — by Davis with 22 seconds left — which proved to be the difference.
Butler drained a pair of three-pointers down the stretch for McMurry, including one with 16 seconds left that reduced the Yellow Jacket lead to a single point. Looking to steal the victory with three seconds to go, Butler's go-ahead three-point attempt was off the mark and Evan Adkins grabbed the rebound to secure the HPU victory.
Howard Payne is back in action at 7:30 p.m. Thursday as Mary Hardin-Baylor (13-10, 5-9) — coming off a 96-86 home loss to LeTourneau — invades the Brownwood Coliseum.