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Merchant leads Rattlers with career high

Ada, Okla. – Juanita Merchant scored a career-high 16 points to lead the way as St. Mary’s University ended an eight-game losing streak with a 57-52 win over East Central University in non-conference women’s basketball action Saturday afternoon.

Merchant (Jr., Angleton) hit on 5-of-9 shots from the field, including 4-of-7 from three-point range to lead all scorers. Her previous career high was 14 points against Montana State University-Billings on Feb. 18, 2006. She came into Saturday’s game averaging 3.1 points per game this season.

She was one of three Rattlers to score in double figures. Charlena Rodez (Sr., Cedar Park) had 11 points, while Dawn Killian (Sr., San Antonio) scored 10 points. Ashton Benford (So., Waxahachie) pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds and dished out a team-high four assists.

After a late run at the end of the first half gave St. Mary’s a two-point halftime lead, the Rattlers took over in the second half. ECU tied the score at 31-31 on a three-pointer by Kacey Thomas. St. Mary’s then went on a 9-0 run to take a 42-33 lead with 11:21 left to play in the game. Merchant started the run with a three-pointer, and then the next Rattler possession Natalie Gamez (So., San Antonio) hit another three-pointer. Killian followed with a three-pointer on the following possession and the Rattlers had a lead they would never give up.

For the Tigers Jastin Flenory led the way with 14 points, while Tenecia Miller had 11 points.

With the win the Rattlers broke an eight-game losing streak and improved to 2-8 overall. ECU fell to 6-5 overall. St. Mary’s will return to action on Dec. 22 when its hosts Northeastern State University at 2 p.m. in Bill Greehey Arena.