The Lady Rattlers soared in Saturday's Heartland opener. (Photo by Antonio Morano Photography)
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SAN ANTONIO — The Lady Rattlers continue on a streak of victories as they picked up their third straight in the Heartland Conference opener Saturday with a win over Texas A&M International University.
Lia Kioa (Jr., Phoenix) held the hottest hand for St. Mary’s (6-2, 1-0 in conference) once more, leading the team with 17 points followed by Jackie Woods (Jr., San Antonio) with 13 and Liz Boyd (Sr., San Antonio) with 11.
In their last home game until the New Year, the Rattlers pounded Bill Greehey Arena for a 73-67 victory over the Dustdevils (2-5, 0-1 in conference) in what would turn out to be a semi-close game despite the Rattlers leading by double figures for much of the night.
St. Mary’s came out strong in the first half, leading Texas A&M by as many as 14 points and hedged by nine before the half. But a run by the Dustdevils in the second threatened the Rattlers and closed in on the gap to within six points. The Rattlers held composed, however, never once giving up the lead they gained within the first six minutes of the game.
“In previous years that I’ve been here, when the game started going downhill for us we would get a little riled up and it was almost like we spun out of control,” says senior Boyd, who totaled six boards and two steals, of the Rattlers’ progress over the years. “And oftentimes we would lose games just like the one tonight but I think it shows our maturity this year and how much we’ve grown as a team, because when we started going down in this game and losing control, we found a way to get a stop and then a score. It really helped us out to have that; I guess you could call it confidence.”
Seven of Boyd’s 11 points against the Dustdevils came from the free-throw line with Saturday marking her first missed free throw on the season (20-21), proving a steady hand propels teams to victory.
Morgan Pullins (So., Franklin, Mich.), who went perfect from the floor against Tarleton State (6 for 6), added nine Saturday and led the Rattlers in boards with seven.
The Rattlers will play their next three games on the road and will not get another taste of conference play until January 3 against the University of Texas-Permian Basin. But Saturday’s win, according to Boyd, will carry weight until the New Year.
“Even though we don’t have another conference game for awhile,” says Boyd, “the win’s momentum is still going to carry us into our next conference game.”
The first stop on the Rattlers’ three-game road trip will be against Texas Woman’s University Wednesday in Denton, Texas at 7 p.m.
St. Mary’s University, as a Catholic Marianist University, fosters the formation of people in faith and educates leaders for the common good through community service, integrated liberal arts and professional education, and academic excellence. The University has six athletic national titles: men’s basketball (1989–NAIA), baseball (2001–NCAA Div. II), softball (1986–NAIA and 2002–NCAA Div. II) and an individual national champion in men’s golf (2006–NCAA Div. II) and a national academic championship in men’s golf (2009–NCAA Div. II). St. Mary’s also had more than 40 percent of its athletes named to conference, regional and/or national honor rolls this past year. St. Mary’s student–athletes graduation rate is 65 percent, higher than the NCAA Division II average of 55 percent. To learn more about St. Mary's, visit www.stmarytx.edu/athletics.