Bulletin Staff Report

ABILENE — The Howard Payne Yellow Jackets trimmed a 21-point second-half deficit to 11, but the Hardin-Simmons Cowboys regrouped and rolled to a 95-70 victory Thursday night in American Southwest Conference action.

The 95 points were the most scored by Hardin-Simmons this season, which converted 31-of-44 shots from the charity stripe.

The Yellow Jackets (5-13, 5-9) had won three of their previous four games to climb into a tie for fourth place in the ASC West standings, but the third-place Cowboys (9-9, 9-5) won for the fifth time in eight games.

The top four teams from the West will comprise half the field in the ASC mens’ championship tournament on Feb. 23-25 at No. 5 Mississippi College.

Matt Brackett led all scorers with 22 points for the Cowboys, while Michael Dinkins and Zach Pickelman chipped in with 16 points each. Mardochee Jean added 10 points.

The Yellow Jackets’ bench accounted for 44 points.

Lee Scott led Howard Payne with 15 points, followed by eight points each from Kendrick Johnson and Sean Wheeler. Tom Hermann and Bryan Blalock added seven points apiece.

Howard Payne — which shot 33 percent (11-of-34) in the first half — managed just two points over the first seven minutes of the game and trailed 9-2 early. By halftime, the Cowboys had opened a 43-25 advantage.