San Antonio – Natalie Gamez and Charlena Rodez combined for 46 points, but it wasn’t enough as the University of the Incarnate Word rallied for a 69-63 win over St. Mary’s University in Heartland Conference women’s basketball action Monday night at Bill Greehey Arena.

St. Mary’s took back the lead midway through the second half and increased their advantage to as much as eight points with 4:50 to play on an Ashton Benford (So., Waxahachie) three-point play. But the Rattlers were outscored 10-2 over the final 4:50. Hayley Harvey hit two free throws with 4:23 left to cut the Rattler lead to six. Cinnamon Kava drew a foul and hit both of her shots from the charity stripe to make it a four-point game with 3:38 remaining. Brittany Hardy followed with a driving layup to cut the Rattler lead to just two at 57-55 with 3:03 left.

Rodez (Sr., Cedar Park) came back with a short jumper in the lane to give St. Mary’s a four-point advantage with 1:52 to play. But Ieasha Sledge came back with a short jumper with 52 seconds left to make it a two-point game again and with seven seconds left her running jumper in the lane tied things at 59-59. The Rattlers saw their last chance in regulation fall by the side when Rodez’s pass in the lane was intercepted.

Hayley Harvey made two big impacts on the game early in overtime. With 4:27 to play she drew the fifth foul on Rodez, ending the night for the Rattlers leading scorer. Then she gave the Cardinals a two-point lead with a layup with 3:40 to play. Gamez (So., San Antonio) quickly responded with a layup on the other end to tie things again. Back came the Cardinals with a Nia Torru jumper to take a 63-61 lead. Then Kava buried a three-pointer from the left side to extend the lead to five. Benford responded with a layup with 1:35 left, but that was all the Rattlers would get. UIW made three of four free throws down the stretch to ice the game.

Rodez had 25 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the field to lead all players. Gamez made 7-of-17 shots from the field and 5-of-5 from the free throw line for 21 points. Benford nearly posted a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds.

Leading the way for the Cardinals was Torru with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Sledge had 15 points.

With the loss St. Mary’s fell to 5-10 overall and 1-1 in Heartland Conference play. UIW improved to 7-8, 2-0. St. Mary’s will return to action on Thursday when they travel to Laredo to face Texas A&M-International in a men’s/women’s doubleheader, starting at 5:30 p.m.

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