By Tony Altobelli
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON Down by 10 with six minutes left in the game, Howard Payne coach Charles Pattillo was waiting to see which one of his long-range shooters would make a late impact on the game.
Hello, Kendrick Johnson.
The 6-foot-3 junior stepped up and sparked a 16-2 run with 13 points, including three 3-pointers to lead the Yellow Jackets to an 81-79 comeback victory over Mary Hardin-Baylor on Saturday at the Mayborn Campus Center.
Johnson finished with 23 points (21 in the second half). He was 9-of-16 from the field, including 5-of-9 from 3-point range. He also grabbed five rebounds and dished out seven assists.
"Kendrick took over for us down the stretch and hit some big shots for us," Pattillo said. "It showed tremendous desire on his part. That line (the three-point line) has really changed the game. You're never out of any game, even if you're down by 20."
The win extends Howard Payne's lead in the American Southwest Conference standings with a 13-2 record (14-3 overall). UMHB falls to 11-4 in the ASC (12-6 overall).
"This was a big win for us because it's never easy to win at this place," Pattillo said. "It's been our goal since the beginning of the season to host the ASC Tournament and this win was needed for us to think about that."
Patrick Oliver and Chris Poole each had 15 points for the Crusaders, while Ryan Burgart and Kevin Guyden each tossed in 13.
Both teams shot above 50 percent from the field, but the key to victory came from downtown, where the Yellow Jackets hit 11-of-25 from the field (44 percent). UMHB hit just 5-of-19 (26 percent) from long range.
It was Oliver's strong play in the first half that paced UMHB as the Cru took a 39-38 lead into the locker room.
A 21-10 run gave UMHB a 66-55 lead midway through the second half and a few minutes later, Poole drained a 3-pointer and was fouled with 6:13 left. He made his free throw and the Cru took a seemingly comfortable 73-63 advantage.
But that's where Johnson took over. Five straight points by Johnson, followed by a 3-pointer by Lee Scott cut the lead down to 75-71 with 3:26 left.
Following a basket by Burgart, Johnson went nuts from downtown. A trey with 2:40 left, a basket down low with 2:09 left and another 3-pointer with 1:35 left capped off an 8-0 run that gave the Jackets the lead for good.
UMHB cut the deficit to 79-77 with a basket by Justin Schwartz, but Michael Ivey answered with a pair of free throws with 21.1 seconds left. UMHB closed out the scoring with a basket with 4.5 seconds left and after a missed free throw by Howard Payne, a desperation half-court shot came up short as the buzzer sounded.
UMHB will play Sul Ross State in Alpine on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
n Howard Payne women 63, UMHB 55 At Belton, Meia Daniels had 26 points, eight rebounds, three assists, three blocks and three steals to lead the Lady Yellow Jackets to victory.
Ice-cold shooting by both teams in the second half made for a ragged finish. Howard Payne (15-3, 12-3 in ASC) shot 9-of-31 (29 percent) from the field, while UMHB made just 8-of-33 (24 percent).
Jessica Wurzbach had 16 points (13 in second half) with 15 rebounds, while Shannon Barnes added 10 points and nine rebounds for UMHB (4-14, 4-11).
With the game tied at 51 with 8:08 remaining, HPU outscored UMHB 7-0 over the next 3:12 and 12-4 the rest of the way.
The first half was highlighted by runs. A 10-2 outburst by UMHB was answered by a 14-7 run early in the game. Midway through the first half, an 11-2 HPU run was answered with an 11-0 UMHB stretch to give the Lady Crusaders a 33-27 lead.
But the Lady Jackets responded with a 7-0 run and finished the first half down by only three, 37-34.
UMHB will play at Sul Ross State on Thursday, beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Contact Tony Altobelli at email@example.com