GEORGETOWN, Texas – Fueled by its home crowd and deep bench, the Southwestern University Pirates men's basketball team overcame a sluggish start to defeat the Howard Payne University Yellow Jackets 86-56.
Trailing 14-7 less than five minutes into the first half, Southwestern University head coach Janson Hightower had seen enough.
The Pirates surrendered a series of layups, open 3-pointers, and offensive rebounds, prompting Jansen to call timeout and turn to his bench at the 15:38 mark. His instructions were simple.
"I told them to bring energy," Jansen said. "Especially on the defensive end."
In went Trenton Garrett and Joel Martinez and up went the energy. The duo combined for eight points off the bench in the first half on four shots, igniting the Pirates' defense with two blocks from Martinez and a block and steal from Garrett, disrupting the Yellow Jackets' offense.
Supplied with the necessary voltage, the Pirates started firing on all cylinders. Kyle Howard pilfered three first-half steals for seven points and Ryan Wheeler scored nine of his game-high 19 points to give Southwestern University a 39-37 lead at the half.
Luke Hicks helped break the game open early in the second half, scoring eight consecutive points in a one-minute span on back-to-back 3-pointers and a steal at half court for a fast break layup to give the Pirates a 56-42 lead.
Hicks was one of four Pirates to finish in double figures, scoring 15 points with four rebounds, two steals, and two assists; punctuating his night with a beautiful behind-the-back pass to Stan Kannegieter in heavy traffic for a layup to give the Pirates a 69-49 lead with 6:38 remaining.
Each Southwestern highlight created a positive feedback loop, sending the bench jumping in celebration, which put some extra life into each player's step on the court. Led by Howard (five steals) and Brandon Alexander (four steals), the Pirates' defense wore down Howard Payne until its composure broke.
Southwestern University forced 16 turnovers in the second half, including 11 steals, to finish the game with a 32-13 advantage in points off turnovers and a 14-10 edge in fast break points.
Javaris Jones led Howard Payne with 15 points on 7-for-13 shooting and Shadd Cole contributed 15 points, eight rebounds, and three assists as the only other Yellow Jacket in double figures.
Wheeler found his range in the second half, hitting 3-for-5 from deep after the break to get his 19 points on 13 shots. Howard finished with 12 points on 10 shots with a team-high four assists and Martinez had 10 points on seven shots to lead a bench unit that outscored its counterparts 29-15.
With the win, the Pirates improve to 2-1 on the season, keeping Howard Payne winless at 0-3. Southwestern University will return to the court on Tuesday, Nov. 20 for a home game against Concordia Texas at 7:00 p.m.