BELTON – The University of Mary Hardin-men’s basketball team answered every Howard Payne run with one of its own and the Cru rolled past the Yellow Jackets 97-85 Saturday afternoon in Belton. The UMHB men have now won six in a row and 11 of their last 12 games to improve to 13-4 overall and 10-2 in American Southwest Conference play on the season. The loss drops Howard Payne to 7-9 overall and 7-4 in the ASC on the year.
The Yellow Jackets scored the first five points of the game, but UMHB battled back to take its first lead of the game at 12-9 on Jerard Graham‘s three-pointer with 15:22 left in the first half. The two teams traded the lead back and forth and it was tied at 27 with 9:29 left in the half. The Cru broke it open with an 18-6 run and would go on to lead 48-35 at the half. Howard Payne cut the gap to single digits several times in the second half but never got closer than seven points the rest of the way as UMHB pulled away with crucial free throws once the Yellow Jackets started fouling in the final minutes.
Russell Green led a balanced Cru scoring attack with 21 points and he scored 14 of those in the early going of the first half. Graham and Daniel Mills added 20 points apiece and Jalen Juryscored 16 more off the bench for UMHB. Green and Graham had seven rebounds apiece. The Cru shot 56 percent from the field in the second half and hit 52 percent for the game. UMHB also went 33-42 from the free-throw line in the victory.
Ty Davis topped Howard Payne with 18 points off the bench. Brandon Gould scored 17 on 5-9 shooting and Sterling Smoak had 13 points and a game-high nine rebounds for the Yellow Jackets. Rickey Guillory also reached double figures with 11 points. Howard Payne had three players foul out in the contest and HPU shot just 5-22 from three-point range. The Yellow Jackets shot 45 percent from the floor as a team and out rebounded UMHB 38-35 in the game.
The Cru men will now play six of their final eight regular season games on the road. That stretch starts with a 7:30 PM tip-off Monday in Austin at Concordia Texas. UMHB will travel to Pineville, Louisiana next Saturday for a 3:00 PM start at Louisiana College.