The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor men’s basketball team dominated the early going, but after falling behind, a late Cru comeback fell just short UMHB fell to Howard Payne 75-70 Thursday night in Brownwood. The loss drops the Cru to 11-6 overall and 4-4 in American Southwest Conference play on the season. The Yellow Jackets improve to 11-6 overall and 7-2 in the ASC with the victory.
UMHB scored the first four points of the game and 21 of the first 25 to open up a 17-point lead just 8:01 into the game. Howard Payne started to chip away and closed the game to 31-30 at halftime as the Cru managed just four points in the final 9:25 of the half. Howard Payne took its first lead of the game at 39-37 with 16:01 remaining in the game and used an 11-3 run to take the lead out to eight points. UMHB would close to within one point on three occasions later in the half, but the Yellow Jackets had an answer each time. HPU led 72-65 with 23 seconds to go, but UMHB’s Braden Hammond hit a jumper and Aubrie King buried a three-pointer after a Howard Payne free throw to cut the lead to 73-70 with 10 seconds remaining. Khyce Randall hit two free throws at the other end to make it a five-point game three seconds later and the Cru would not be able to close the gap.
HPU outscored UMHB 34-24 in the paint, while the Cru held a 16-4 edge in second-chance points. The Yellow Jackets shot 40 percent from the field with UMHB hitting 33 percent. Howard Payne out rebounded the Cru 48-43 and went 23-34 from the free throw line compared to UMHB’s 18-24 mark from the stripe.
Demarius Cress topped the Cru with 20 points and Daniel Mills added 15. King scored 14 points and pulled down a team-best 10 rebounds to post a double-double for UMHB.
Randall had a game-high 28 points to lead Howard Payne. Rickey Guillory added 14 points. J Bailey and Donovan Jenkins grabbed 11 rebounds apiece for the Yellow Jackets.
The Cru will close out its four-game road trip with a 3:00 PM tip-off at Sul Ross State University Saturday in Alpine. UMHB will then return home to kick off a five-game home stand. That stretch opens with a 7:30 PM start against Hardin-Simmons University next Thursday at the Mayborn Campus Center.