ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – St. Mary’s University couldn’t hold on to a halftime lead and fell to 24th-ranked Missouri Western State University, 71-63, in women’s basketball action Wednesday night at MWSU Fieldhouse.

Behind the strong shooting of Ashton Benford (So., Waxahachie), Charlena Rodez (Sr., Cedar Park) and Natalie Gamez (So., San Antonio), the Rattlers shot 51.6 percent from the field in the first half and held a 39-38 lead at the break. The trio combined for 27 of the Rattlers 39 points. MWSU countered with Inga Buzoka, who had 10 points in the first half.

But the Griffons started the second half with a 9-0 run to take the lead at 47-39. The Rattlers cut the lead to just three points on two occasions. Then with 6:22 left to play Dawn Killian (Sr., San Antonio) hit a driving layup and Rodez followed with a jump shot to pull the Rattlers within two at 56-54. However the Griffons again rallied and increased their lead to seven at 64-57 with 3:27 to play and finished off the Rattlers.

Gamez led all players with 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the field. Rodez was the only other Rattler in double figures with 14 points and seven rebounds. Yanique Javois and Inga Buzoka led MWSU with 14 points apiece. Buzoka added nine rebounds and five blocks.

With the loss the Rattlers fell to 1-8 overall and have lost eight straight games. Missouri Western remained undefeated at 6-0 on the season. St. Mary’s will return to action on December 16 when they travel to Ada, Okla., to take on East Central University at 2 p.m.

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