Seeking to make amends following a 42-point road loss on Feb. 8, the Howard Payne Lady Jackets played American Southwest Conference West Division co-leader Mary-Hardin-Baylor even through the first half. But in the second half, the Lady Crusaders were able to distance themselves for a 77-64 victory at the Brownwood Coliseum.
Despite the loss, the Lady Jackets (10-14, 6-9) can still secure the No. 3 seed from the ASC West Division with a victory in Saturday's regular season finale. Howard Payne hosts Concordia (9-15, 6-9) — which fell to Sul Ross, 62-57, Thursday night — at 1 p.m. Saturday in a game that will determine the West Division's third and fourth tournament seeds. Concordia won the first meeting in Austin, 86-71, on Feb. 8.
Against Mary Hardin-Baylor (19-4, 12-2) Thursday night, the Lady Jackets shot 40 percent (23 of 57) from the floor, 25 percent (5 of 20) from three-point land, and 62 percent (13 of 21) at the free throw line. While HPU forced 17 turnovers and committed just 15, UMHB owned a 40-33 edge in rebounds.
Chelsey Harris poured in 20 points to lead the way for Howard Payne followed by ASC West Player of the Week Bria Neal with 18, Salina Ali and Lily Janek with eight points apiece, Delaney Ingram with six, Anastasia Willis with three and Catlyn Ward sank a free throw.
UMHB — which defeated Howard Payne, 112-70, in the first go-round —knocked down 45 percent (24 of 53) of its shots, including 35 percent (6 of 17) of its treys, along with 72 percent (23 of 32) of its free throws.
Kendall Rollins paced Mary Hardin-Baylor with 26 points trailed by 19 from Allaira Jones, and 16 from Hannah Holt.
The Lady Jackets led 19-13 after one quarter, but went scoreless for the first 6:47 of the second period. In that time, UMHB reeled off 13 consecutive points to grab a 26-19 advantage.
Howard Payne responded with seven points on its own, as a trey by Harris at the 1:06 juncture knotted the score at 26. At halftime, the game was deadlocked at 28 apiece.
Down 48-39 with 3:06 left in the third, Howard Payne scored eight straight points to trim the deficit to 48-47. A bucket by Neal at the 1:03 mark brought the Lady Jackets within a point following five free HPU throws.
UMHB carried a 53-49 advantage into the fourth quarter and stretched the lead to nine points midway through the frame. HPU got no closer than five points the last half of the quarter, as UMHB tallied the final six points of the game.
Tied at 11 with 2:39 left in the first period, HPU closed the quarter on an 8-2 run. Harris broke the tie with a three-pointer at 2:07 and Ingram added a jumper at 1:37 to boost the lead to 16-11. After an UMHB bucket, Harris knocked down another three-pointer with 55 seconds left for the final points of the quarter, and a six-point HPU edge.