San Antonio – Natalie Gamez and Rachel Jones combined for 38 points, helping St. Mary’s University to a 70-51 win over the University of Montevallo in women’s basketball action at the St. Mary’s New Year’s Classic Monday afternoon at Bill Greehey Arena.

Gamez (Jr., San Antonio) scored 21 points and added five rebounds, while shooting 7-of-10 from the field to earn MVP honors of the tournament. Jones (Jr., Little Rock, Ark.) also was named to the all-tournament team, scoring 17 points, pulling down nine rebounds, dishing out five assists and making three steals. Juanita Merchant (Sr., Angleton) was the only other Rattlers in double figures in scoring with 10 points. Farren Fox (So., Marble Falls) came off the bench to score nine points and pulled down nine rebounds.

The Rattlers used a surge midway through the first half to take a commanding lead. Back-to-back steals and fast break baskets by Jones helped key a 25-7 run that gave the Rattlers a 31-16 lead with 5:16 left in the first half. Jones scored 13 points during the run. But Montevallo used a strong inside game to take control. A Gamez jump shot with 3:53 left in the half gave the Rattles a 33-22 lead. UM would then go on an 18-0 run over the next 7:57 to take a six-point lead at 39-33 with 15:56 left in the game.

With several players in foul trouble and UM dominating down low the Rattlers needed a big change of pace. They would get it. After the teams battled back and forth over the next six minutes the Rattlers took control. Merchant hit both of her three-pointers to help key a 24-3 run that turned a close game into a runaway. St. Mary’s led by as much as 19 over the finals minutes.

Shan Jones earned all-tournament honors after scoring 15 points and pulling down six rebounds in the game. Tiffany Johnson also scored 11 points.

In other action at the New Year’s Classic, the University of the Incarnate Word completed a 2-0 run at the tournament by defeating Southeastern Oklahoma State University, 57-53. SOSU finished 0-2 in the tournament.

With the win the Rattlers have now won eight straight games and improved to 9-4 overall this season. Montevallo lost its fourth straight and is now 3-10. St. Mary’s will return to action on Thursday, Jan. 10 at 5:30 p.m. when they host Lincoln University in the Heartland Conference opener for both teams. The game will be the first game of a women’s/men’s doubleheader. 

All-Tournament Team
Rachel Jones, St. Mary’s
Nia Torru, Incarnate Word
Brittany Hardy, Incarnate Word
Shan Jones, Montevallo
Jessica Hocker, Southeastern Oklahoma State
MVP – Natalie Gamez, St. Mary’s

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