Looking for Some Payback: Four weeks ago the Rattlers were on a roll entering their game against Incarnate Word. They had won four in a row and were 2-0 in the Heartland Conference. But three overtimes and 22 lead changes later the Cardinals snuck out of Bill Greehey Arena with a 96-94 win. Now St. Mary’s looks to return the favor when they travel across town to take on the Cardinals this Friday at the McDermott Center. Like the last time the Rattlers faced UIW, St. Mary’s is red-hot, having won their last two and three of their last four. A win would vault them into sole possession of second place in the HC. St. Mary’s returns home for four of the next five games after Friday’s contest.
About St. Mary’s: After dropping two games to Heartland leaders Incarnate Word and St. Edward’s, the Rattlers bounced back strong last week, going on the road to defeat both Montana State-Billings and Lincoln. With those wins the Rattlers improved to 4-2 in the conference, just one game behind St. Edward’s and one-half game back of Incarnate Word. The Rattlers rank at the top of nearly every category in the Heartland Conference in both offense and defense. They lead the league in field goal percentage (47.9) and three-point field goal percentage (38.9), while holding their opponents to the worst shooting percentages in the conference (42.4 – field goal, 28.0 – three-point). They are outrebounding their opponents by a league-leading 5.3 rebounds per game. Jarvis Lee is the Rattlers leading scorer, ranking 12th in the Heartland with 11.8 points per game. Latez Williams is second in the league in shooting percentage at 62.5). Dominique Richardson is second in the HC in assists with 4.60, while Allen Coleman is sixth with 4.06 and Rod Bellard is 13th with 1.89. The Rattlers are 3-3 away from home this season.They are also 6-1 when holding opponents to less than 50 points.
About Incarnate Word: Since a 3-7 start to the season the Cardinals are 8-2 and stand at 11-9 overall, including a 5-2 mark in Heartland Conference play. As a team they average 73.4 points per game, second in the HC, but give up 71.4 points, four best in the conference. They are shooting 46.7 percent from the field, second to St. Mary’s and allow opponents to shoot 42.6 percent, again just behind the Rattlers. They are leading the Heartland in rebounds per game (37.5) and are second in rebounding margin with 4.2 average per game. Individual Jason Gant leads the team in scoring with 15.2 points per game, while Mikyl Bradshaw is second with 12.5. Gant also leads the Heartland Conference with 10.1 rebounds per contest. Pierce Caldwell is second in the HC with 2.7 three-pointers per game.
St. Mary’s vs. Incarnate Word: St. Mary’s leads the all-time series between the schools 27-20, including wins in the last four of the last five meetings and eight of the last 10. The Rattlers are 10-9 against the Cardinals at UIW and have won the last two meeting at the McDermott Center. The Cardinals won the first meeting this season, The Rattlers defeated UIW 55-38 at St. Mary’s last season and 67-52 at UIW. St. Mary’s won 67-65 at St. Mary’s and 67-52 at UIW in 2004-05.