The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor men's basketball team saw a last second shot go through for a game-winner for the second time in a month as the Cru dropped a 76-74 heartbreaker to Howard Payne Saturday evening in Brownwood. UMHB closes out the regular season with a 17-8 overall record and a 10-7 mark in American Southwest Conference play. Howard Payne moves to 11-14 overall and 7-10 in the ASC with the victory.
There were seven lead changes and three ties in the first half before UMHB took a 34-31 lead into the locker room at the break. The Cru would open up a 10-point lead at 57-47 with 8:41 left in the game, but the Yellow Jackets used a 14-3 lead to grab a 61-60 lead. HPU would lead 74-69 with 1:20 remaining, but Demarius Cress scored five straight points for the Cru to tie the game at 74-74 with 28.5 seconds on the clock. Howard Payne played for one final shot, but Khyce Randall's three-pointer was off the mark with four seconds to go. Timothy Aguero scooped up the loose ball and hit an off-balance jump shot as he was falling out of bounds at the final buzzer to make the difference. UMHB also lost a home game to Sul Ross State four weeks ago on a buzzer-beating three-pointer.
Brian Long led the Cru with 15 points and eight rebounds. Cress and LaKendric Hyson scored 13 points apiece and Aubrie King added 12 more. UMHB shot 42 percent from the field, 24 percent from three-point range and went 11-19 from the free-throw line in the game. The Cru forced 18 turnovers but was out rebounded by HPU 51-35 in the contest.
Randall led the Yellow Jackets with 36 points and he added nine rebounds. Darren Farmer was the only other player in double figures for Howard Payne with 13 points and Thomas Bingham pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds. HPU shot 41 percent from the field and was 16-22 from the free-throw line. The Yellow Jackets were also credited with 20 offensive rebounds in the victory.
The UMHB men will now advance to the ASC Championship Tournament next week in Alpine. The Cru is the #2 seed from the West Division and will open the tournament against East Division #3 seed East Texas Baptist in a 12:00 PM First Round game. Sul Ross State University won the ASC West and earned the right to host the tournament.