The Howard Payne Yellow Jackets were pleased with the improvement they displayed, but disappointed with the final result in a rematch of their season opener.

After kicking off the 2007-08 basketball campaign with a 108-54 loss at UT-Permian Basin, the Yellow Jackets suffered an 87-77 setback to the Falcons in non-conference action at the Brownwood Coliseum on Friday.

The Falcons’ (2-6) only wins this season have come against the Yellow Jackets (5-4).

Howard Payne owned a 16-point advantage in the first half — 30-14 with 9:17 left — but UTPB closed the halftime gap to two points, 39-37. The Falcons then scored 20 of the first 27 points in the second half to build a 57-46 cushion with 14:53 left.

“I’m disappointed because we had a 16-point lead and had two serious stretches of being dumb and doing dumb things,” said Jackets head coach Charles Pattillo. “A part of it is that we’re not in shape yet and they recognize what the problem is. Other than that, I was pretty proud of them. It was a pretty good turnaround. A 44-point improvement is not too bad.”

Tom Hermann scored 29 points to pace the Yellow Jackets, who shot 44 percent (27-of-61) from the floor. Hermann was 9-of-17 on his field goal attempts and hit 11-of-12 free throws.

“Tom has played hard,” Pattillo said. “If everybody played with Tom’s intensity, we’d be in great shape.”

Lee Scott chipped in 16 points and Bryan Blalock added 14.

Three UTPB reserves led the Falcons in scoring as each cracked double figures. Justin Bailey poured in 22 points, followed by 19 from Quintan Lipkins and 15 from Robert Harris.

The Yellow Jackets turned the ball over 27 times, including eight to start the second half which ignited the decisive 20-7 run for the Falcons.

UTPB began the second half in a full court press, and the Yellow Jackets coughed the ball up more often than not.

“That’s when we started turning the basketball over and started forcing things we don’t normally do,” Pattillo said. “Then we had some people take some shots they don’t normally take, but we’ll take care of those things.”

Howard Payne was playing its first game with a trimmed down roster. Three players did not return for the spring semester — Chris Cornwell, John Bryant and Nate Phillips — and guard Travis Dawson missed the game due to an injury. That left only nine Yellow Jackets available for duty.

Pattillo stated the Jackets will have to adjust to their sudden lack of depth.

“I think our starters realize they have to stay out of foul trouble and be more productive at the same time,” Pattillo said.

HPU will return to action Thursday when it hosts UT-Dallas at 7:30 p.m. in an American Southwest Conference contest.

The Jackets are currently 3-2 in conference play, which is good for a share of second place in the West division.

“We have to take advantage of our position and stay there,” Pattillo said. “That starts with taking care of our business on our own home court.”