The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor women's basketball team earned a 72-66 win over West Division foe Howard Payne University Thursday evening in Belton, giving the Cru sole possession of first place in the West. UMHB improved their season record to 16-3 with a 9-2 mark in American Southwest Conference action while the Yellow Jackets moved to 12-7 with an 8-3 record in league play.
UMHB opened the game with a 19-15 lead after the first quarter, shooting 50 percent in the first quarter. The Cru opened the second quarter with 14-4 run with Kendall Rollins scoring six points and Alicia Blackwell adding five in the surge. UMHB finished the second quarter with a 13-point advantage, shooting 45.5 percent in the first half. Blackwell led the Cru with 11 points in the half while Rollins and Hannah Holt each added eight.
The Cru continued that lead through the third quarter, entering the final ten minute of play up 56-43. Howard Payne cut the lead to just four points two minutes into the quarter and held the Cru to a single-digit advantage for the next four minutes. UMHB found their offense through foul shots and did not make a basket from the floor until Aubrie Elliott hit a three-pointer with 3:30 remaining in the contest to give the Cru its largest lead of the quarter at 11 points. The Yellow Jackets cut that lead to as few as five with 42 seconds left but UMHB held on securing the 72-66 win and division lead.
Holt and Blackwell led the Cru with 17 points each while Kendall Rollins and Aubrie Elliott each added 12. Blackwell also led the Cru with four assists en route to a team-total 13. Defensively, Holt led the Cru with 12 boards followed by Alicia Blackwell with 10. UMHB totaled 51 rebounds in the contest, adding eight steals and one block. The Cru shot 33.8 percent in the contest, 20 percent from beyond the arc and 78.1 percent in foul shots.
Jada Evans led the Yellow Jackets with 17 points followed by Valarie Matlock with 16. Howard Payne shot 37.8 percent in the contest, 14.8 percent from beyond the arc and 85.7 percent from the free throw line.
UMHB returns to action on Saturday, January 27th in a 2 p.m. match against Sul Ross State University at the Mayborn Campus Center in Belton.