The No. 6 Howard Payne Lady Jackets put forth their most complete effort of the season and earned their most lopsided victory since the 2007-08 national championship campaign with Saturday’s 89-37 thrashing of Sul Ross at the Brownwood Coliseum.
The Lady Jackets (7-0, 5-0) made the most of their considerable height advantage as Sul Ross did not suit up a player taller than 5-9. That mismatch aided Howard Payne as it drained a season-best 63 percent (35-of-56) of its field goal attempts and 45 percent (9-of-20) of its three-pointers. On the defensive end, the Lady Jackets limited Sul Ross (1-7, 1-4) to 25 percent shooting (16-of-65) while owning a 45-29 edge in rebounds.
“All week long in practice we emphasized getting the ball inside and then out, and looking at their size on the roster we knew we could have an advantage inside,” said Lady Jackets head coach Josh Prock. “Two-foot shots are obviously better than 12-foot shots, so we got the ball inside and that’s why we shot so well today.
“Defensively, we told our threes, fours and fives to just go straight up because they were going to have a hard time shooting over us.”
Four Lady Jackets finished in double figures, led by 16 points each from Clarissa Krum and Roshonda Gayden. Elaine Hobbs chipped in 12 points on four three-pointers, while Hope Hohertz finished with 11 points.
Also scoring for Howard Payne were Sarah Pfiester with seven points, Tiffany Warner with six, Keslie Satterwhite and Jasmin Thomas with five each, Brittany Zamora and Courtney Bolding with four apiece and Abby Parmelly added three points.
Every Lady Jacket that suited out played at least eight minutes, which Prock stated was important as Howard Payne attempts to increase its experience level in case of injuries or an illness — which kept starting guard Katy Sarem out of Saturday’s contest.
“You never know when a girl may get sick or have an injury, and Katy was out today, so our girls getting valuable playing time is very important to us,” Prock said.
Having played to the level of their competition through the first six games, the Lady Jackets had struggled against some of the weaker teams on their schedule thus far.
That ended Saturday, however, as Howard Payne scored 17 of the first 19 points and owned a 15-point advantage just 6:49 into the contest.
“Today was very indicative of our week of practice,” Prock said. “We had three really good days of practice and usually when you practice well, you play well. We emphasized all week that in order to get to where we want to get to, we have to be ready to play every game. It doesn’t matter if it’s Sul Ross, Hardin-Simmons or Louisiana College and Mississippi College next weekend.”
Krum drained a three-pointer to open the scoring, then after a bucket by Sul Ross’ Liz Pereyna, the Lady Jackets followed with 14 unanswered points. The run began with with layups by Hohertz and Krum, then Hohertz drained a three-pointer to push the lead to 10-2 at the 17:33 mark of the first half.
Hobbs followed with her first trey, Zamora scored on a jumper and Gayden chipped in two free throws to cap the run at the 13:11 mark of the opening half.
The Lady Jackets’ lead eclipsed 20 points, 31-10, with 6:46 left before halftime on a three-pointer by Abby Parmelly, while Hobbs knocked down a trey at the 2:59 juncture to stretch the lead to 30 points, 42-12.
Howard Payne converted 8-of-14 three-pointers in the first half en route to a 44-14 lead at intermission.
“I’ve told the girls that I feel like we’re a pretty good three-point shooting team, and if they keep shooting they’re going to make some shots,” Prock said. “Whether you make your first few shots or not, you just keep playing good defense and the shots will eventually start to fall.
“We took some better shots today. We went inside first where they bunched up on us, then we were able to kick it back out and had wide-open threes.”
The Lady Jackets’ lead surpassed 40 points just 4:13 into the second half as a layup from Krum made the score 59-18. Howard Payne’s first 50-point cushion occurred with 10:01 left when Pfiester scored on a layup. HPU twice led by 54 points — 87-33 and 89-35 — after a free throw by Satterwhite and a bucket from Bolding with 49 seconds left.
Saturday’s margin of victory for Howard Payne was the largest since it defeated Texas Lutheran, 88-34, on Feb. 21, 2008.
The three-time defending ASC champion Lady Jackets will next head to Louisiana College (5-1, 3-1) for a 1 p.m. Saturday showdown.