With one week left in the regular season, the St. Mary’s men’s basketball team (14-12, 7-2) again has the Heartland Conference lead all to itself while the St. Mary’s women (19-6, 7-2) are holding strong in second place. The Rattler men finish the regular season on March 1, when Incarnate Word pays a visit to Bill Greehey Arena. In their first pairings this season, on Feb. 1, the Rattler men defeated Incarnate Word 70-55, while the St. Mary’s women fell to the Crusaders 66-60 in overtime. St. Mary’s has won four of the last five games versus the Lady Crusaders while the Rattler men carry a three of five mark.
The men’s and women’s Heartland Conference Tournaments are scheduled for the week of March 3-8 with four teams advancing to each bracket. The semi-finals will pit the #4 seed at the #1 seed and the #3 at #2, with the finals played at the highest-remaining seeds’ home courts.
On Feb. 22, the Rattler men grabbed the conference lead thanks to the combination of their 81-57 home victory over St. Edward’s and Rockhurst’s 93-90 overtime loss at Drury. The now second-place Rockhurst Hawks (16-10, 6-3) finish their regular season against fifth-place Lincoln (12-12, 4-5) on March 1.The Hawks are tied with Incarnate Word (18-6, 6-3) while Drury sits in fourth at 5-5 in Heartland play, 10-16 overall. St. Edward’s (4-22, 0-10) rounds out the men’s standings in sixth.
The Rattler women, 88-50 victors over St. Edward’s (6-20, 0-10), will finish in second place as #15 Drury (24-3, 9-1) ended its regular season with a 90-60 victory over Rockhurst on Feb. 22 . The Incarnate Word and Lincoln women are tied for third with 5-4 conference marks. Rockhurst sits in fifth at 2-7, 6-20 overall while St. Edward’s holds the sixth spot.
The St. Mary’s women were sparked in their 38-point home victory over St. Edward’s this past Saturday by Martha Brinker. A senior post from Corpus Christi, Brinker came off the bench to lead St. Mary’s with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Nicole Brantley added five three-pointers to finish with 17 points and eight assists. St. Mary’s out-rebounded the Hilltoppers 47-17 and made 24 of 27 free-throws. while St. Ed’s connected on five of only 11 attempts from the line. In the men’s nightcap, the Buddy’s Boys opened with a 15-0 run and never let the Hilltoppers back into the game. Pedro Brito scored 14 points in the first half and finished the Rattlers’ high-scorer with 20 points. Jamez Tealer added 14 points. St. Mary’s shot 56 percent from the floor with holding SEU to 36 percent.
Earlier in the week the Rattler men and women enjoyed routs of Oklahoma Panhandle State on Feb. 20. The women’s team clobbered the Aggies by sixty, 96-36.. The Rattlers shot 54.7 percent on the night while holding the Aggies to just 22.2 percent. St. Mary’s outrebounded OPSU by 29, 55-26. Rattler leading scorer Erin Griffin set a new team season high with 30 points after hitting 10 of 14 from the floor and setting team season highs for free-throws and free-throw attempts by hitting 10 of 12 from the line. Griffin added 13 rebounds and Martha Brinker added 23 points. The men closed out the evening with a solid 25-point victory, 98-73. Ben McCain shot 10 of 14 from the floor and three of four from the line for 23 points to lead the Rattlers. St. Mary’s led 43-25 at halftime and kept their lead to around 20 points for most the second half. Anthony Weeaks hit three three-pointers en route to adding 20 points for the home team.
Brinker was named the Heartland Conference Women’s Player of the Week after averaging 22.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in the Rattler victories over Panhandle State and St. Edward’s.
As of Feb. 22, the Rattler women are led in scoring by junior post Erin Griffin (15.1), senior guard Meosha Nash (13.1), Brinker (12.6) and sophomore guard Nicole Brantley (11.6). Nash leads the team in free-throw shooting, hitting 81.8 percent. Junior guard Neno Anguiano leads the team in assists with 120 (5 per game) and Griffin is leading rebounder with 8.9 per game. Brinker is seventh in nation in field-goal percentage, Brantley is 16th and Nash is 30th nationally in three-point field goal percentage, and Nash is 17th and Brantley is 26th in three-pointers per game. As a team the Rattlers are 12th nationally in field-goal percentage, 16th in rebound margin, 19th in three-point percentage, and 30th in three-pointers per game. The Rattlers average 74.3 point per game, a 12.2-point margin over their opponents.
As of Feb. 22, the Rattler men are led in scoring by sophomore wing Billy White (13.9), freshman post McCain (13.0 and junior post Brito (10.8); former Rattler guard Antonio Falu had a 15.2 points per game average over the first 15 games of the season. White’s 55 steals (2.2 per game) and 167 rebounds (6.7 per game) lead the team. McCain has 34 blocks, just ahead of White’s 23. Junior guard Ky O’Dell is tops in assists, averaging 4.46 per game. The Rattlers are hitting 49.9 percent of their field goals, which is 15th best in the nation. Buddy’s Boys average 74.2 points per game, a 5.9-point margin over their opponents.
Rattlers in the Air
Rattler men’s basketball is broadcast live on the radio via KLUP AM 930 or over the Internet via www.klup.com. Marc Hoenig and Pete Hansen make the calls.