BROWNWOOD, Texas – Howard Payne overcame an 11-point deficit in the final seven minutes to stun Hardin-Simmons, 76-73, on Thursday evening at the Brownwood Coliseum.
The Cowgirls led 64-53 with 7:52 to play and then the Lady Jackets went on a 13-2 run to tie the game with 4:22 to play. The teams traded baskets the rest of the way. Kaitlyn Ellis free throws with :52 to play tied the game at 72.
HSU then came up with a defensive stop when Ellis stepped in to take a charge. A miscommunication with the shot clock operator and the official set the shot clock to :20 seconds instead of :30. The game had to be stopped to correct the error. On the inbounds, Lily Janek was able to step in and steal the inbounds pass. She passed it ahead to a wide-open Caitlyn Ward for a lay-up to put HPU up 74-72 with :12 to play.
The Cowgirls then had a chance to tie the game and had two shots that missed but they got the offensive rebounds. Taylor Gaffney was fouled with :03.4 to play but she missed the first free throw. She made the second and HPU made two more free throws to seal the game with 00.1 to play.
HSU jumped out to a 16-3 lead in the early going, but HPU chipped the deficit to 21-18 after the first quarter. The Cowgirls led 48-41 at halftime. Ellis had 20 of her 24 points in the first half. HSU led 60-50 heading to the fourth quarter.
The Cowgirls shot just 21 percent in the second half making 6-of-28 shots. HSU also had 11 turnovers in the second half, including seven in the deciding run in the fourth quarter.
Ellis led the Cowgirls with 24 points, Gaffney added 19 and Parris Parmer scored 15. Brian Neal had 16 points and 10 rebounds to pace HPU.
The Cowgirls are now 17-5 on the year and fell into a first-place tie with Mary Hardin-Baylor in the ASC West. Howard Payne improved to 9-13 overall and 5-8 in league play. HSU will travel to Alpine to play Sul Ross State on Saturday at 1 p.m.