The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor men’s basketball team used a solid offensive effort in the first half and a smothering defensive effort in the second half to roll to an 87-70 win over Howard Payne University Thursday night in Belton. The Cru improves to 14-5 overall and 7-4 in American Southwest Conference play with the victory. The loss drops the Yellow Jackets to 7-12 overall and 3-8 in the ASC on the year.
Howard Payne scored the game’s first four points before UMHB started to heat up. The Cru buried nine first-half three-pointers and shot 67 percent from beyond the arc in the first half to build a 48-38 halftime lead. Sam Moore drilled the ninth three-pointer of the half for UMHB at the buzzer to push the lead into double digits. The Cru defense clamped down in the second half, holding the Yellow Jackets without a field goal for the first 6:38 of the period before Khyce Randall hit a three-pointer. By then the UMHB lead was at 15 points and the Cru never let Howard Payne get closer than that the rest of the way. The lead would grow to as many as 24 points before UMHB coasted to the finish.
Brian Long led the Cru with 19 points and Moore added 14 more off the bench. Shaq Martin also reached double figures with 13 points and he added a team-best seven rebounds. Eleven different players scored in the game for UMHB as the team finished 11-22 from three-point range. The Cru shot 48 percent from the field as a team and went 18-26 from the free-throw line. Braden Hammond had eight assists and LaKendric Hyson dished off six more for UMHB.
Randall finished with 30 points for the Yellow Jackets, but no one else scored more than eight. Thomas Bingham pulled down a game-high nine rebounds for HPU. Howard Payne was held to 25 percent shooting from the field in the second half and only hit 35 percent for the game. The Yellow Jackets were 8-26 from long-range and shot just 61 percent from the stripe in the loss.
The Cru will close out the week with a 4:00 PM tip-off against ASC West Division leader Sul Ross State on Saturday at the Mayborn Campus Center. UMHB will host McMurry University and Hardin-Simmons University next week to close out a five-game home stand.