The No. 2 Howard Lady Jackets can beat up on the bigger programs, too.
The Lady Jackets improved to 9-0 with an 89-50 non-conference victory over the NCAA Division II UT-Permian Basin Lady Falcons Saturday afternoon at the Brownwood Coliseum.
The win was the 25th straight at the Coliseum for the Lady Jackets, who will host American Southwest Conference East division co-leaders UT-Dallas and UT-Tyler on Thursday and Saturday, respectively.
“It’s a big week for us and our kids to need to prepare really well,” said Lady Jackets head coach Chris Kielsmeier. “I feel very confident against those teams next week if we prepare well and our kids know that. If we practice the right way and go out and execute, we’ll certainly be in a position to have a lot of success.”
In Saturday’s victory, the Lady Jackets shot 49 percent (35-of-72) from the floor and outrebounded the Lady Falcons (2-12) by a 53-36 count. HPU also forced 28 turnovers and matched this season’s average margin of victory — 39 points.
“They’re a talented basketball team,” Kielsmeier said. “They have some good athletes and post players and (post) Crystal Johnson is probably the best player we’ve seen all year.
“They may not match up well against other Division II schools, but you put a Division II school against a Division III school and they’re probably supposed to beat them.”
Meia Daniels tallied 24 points for Howard Payne, with 18 coming in the first half, while Stacey Blalock chipped in 22. Kim Hoffman added 15 points and eight rebounds, followed by Hope Hohertz’s nine points and a team-high 11 boards.
Also scoring for the Lady Jackets were Katy Sarem with six points, Sarah Pfiester with four, Mionca Hall and Elaine Hobbs with three points each, Sarah Jockers with two points and Daphnie Pippins added one point.
Johnson racked up 22 points for UTPB, while Tomisha Martin finished with eight.
Howard Payne scored the game’s first 17 points and held the Lady Falcons scoreless for the opening 7:41.
The Lady Jackets’ opening spurt was keyed by the four seniors — Daniels, Blalock, Hoffman and Pippins — who accounted for the first 21 HPU points.
A layup by Daniels gave the Lady Jackets a 45-18 lead with 2:29 left before halftime, but the Lady Falcons made a late charge and closed to within 47-26 by intermission.
“The first 15 minutes of the first half might have been the best 15 minutes we’ve played all year,” Kielsmeier said. “I thought our execution was outstanding and our kids played really hard.
“The last five minutes of the first half was just not Howard Payne basketball. I didn’t go into locker room very happy at halftime.”
Kielsmeier stated he challenged his team at halftime and they responded with a 17-8 run to open the second half. A free throw by Hohertz gave Howard Payne its first 30-point lead of the night, 64-34, and essentially iced the game with 12:46 remaining.
“We didn’t have a whole lot of time to prepare for this game, but our kids came back in great spirits and worked really hard,” Kielsmeier said. “It was a good win for us, and now we can go on to conference play next week.”