San Antonio – Dawn Killian’s driving layup with 3.5 seconds left was the difference as St. Mary’s University rallied to defeat the University of Central Missouri, 53-52, at the Rattler Tip-Off Classic in women’s basketball action Friday night at Bill Greehey Arena.

Killian (Sr., San Antonio) led all scorers with 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting. But it was her shot with the game on the line that mattered most. Killian took the inbound pass with under 10 seconds to play, split a pair of defenders and laid the ball up and in from the right side to score the game-winning bucket. UCM had one more chance to win, but Meagan Fromm’s inbound was intercepted by Juanita Merchant (Fr., Angleton) to end the game.

“Dawn likes to take the last shot,” head coach Jason Martens said. “That has to be the fourth or fifth game-winning shot she has made during her time here. The play broke down and she made the shot, it was that simple.”

Joining Killian in double figures for the Rattlers was Ashton Benford (So., Waxahachie) with 12 points and a game-high 10 rebounds, as well as Natalie Gamez (Jr., San Antonio) with 11 points. Benford added a game-high five blocks, helping the Rattlers to eight in the game. Merchant had five steals, while the Rattlers had 14 as a team.

Scoring in double figures for Central Missouri was Lindsey Maple and Kim Battle with 13 points, as well as Meagan Fromm with 11 points.

With the Rattlers leading by four, 28-24, at the break, UCM came out firing. The Jennies went on a 12-0 run to start the second half and took the lead at 36-28. But the Rattlers came right back with Charlena Rodez (Sr., Cedar Park) scoring four and Killian adding three in an 11-3 run that tied things at 39-39.

From there neither team led by more than four points, but when UCM took a four-point lead, at 50-46, on Tanisha Bitsoi’s free throw with 4:04 left, things looked bleak. However Rodez hit a layup with 3:55 left to cut the lead to two. Rodez made one of two free throws to cut the lead to just one at 50-49 with 3:11 left. Maple made a pair of free throws to make the lead three again at 52-49 with 1:52 left. But a Merchant steal led to a Benford layup to make it a one-point game with 1:00 to play, setting up Killian’s heroics.

With the win the Rattlers improved to 1-0 on the season, while Central Missouri fell to 1-1. St. Mary’s will face Fort Hays State University, a 77-64 winner over Texas A&M University-Kingsville in the final game of the tournament on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Central Missouri will take on TAMUK at 5:30 p.m.

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