BROWNWOOD, Texas -- Mary Hardin-Baylor took control of the game early and then held off a second-half rally on the way to a 76-55 victory against Howard Payne on Thursday night. The ninth-ranked Cru improve to 19-1 overall and 15-1 in American Southwest Conference play with the win. Mary Hardin-Baylor also clinched a berth in the ASC Tournament with the victory. Howard Payne falls to 8-12 overall and 6-10 in the ASC on the season with the loss.

The Cru never trailed in the game and scored the first eight points of the contest before Howard Payne finally got on the board 2:50 into the game. UMHB would build a double-digit lead less than 10 minutes into the game and led 42-23 at halftime.

Howard Payne battled back to cut the lead to 12 points early in the second half and trailed 53-41 with 11:09 left to play. The Cru responded with a 12-0 run to push the lead to 24 points and UMHB never looked back in cruising to its second 21-point win against Howard Payne in the last seven days.

James Allen led the Cru with 19 points on 4-6 shooting from three-point range and he added five assists. Kitrick Bell had 16 points and seven rebounds and Thomas Orr chipped in 13 points off the bench for UMHB. The Cru shot 53 percent from the field in the game and went 8-16 from three-point range. UMHB out rebounded HPU 42-33 and the two teams combined to shoot just 15 free-throws in the game.

Brandon Gould topped the Yellow Jackets with 14 points and Brandon Irwin added 12 more. Henry Vallardes added 10 points and seven boards for HPU. The Yellow Jackets shot just 35 percent for the game and went 4-17 from beyond the arc.