San Antonio–Mallory Moeller’s layup with 5.5 seconds left was the difference and Natalie Gamez poured in 24 points as St. Mary’s University edged Southeastern Oklahoma State University, 66-64, in women’s basketball action at the St. Mary’s New Year’s Classic Sunday night at Bill Greehey Arena.
For most of the second half it looked as if the Rattlers would cruise to their seventh straight win. With 10:19 left to play Moeller (Fr., Seguin) hit a pair of free throws to give St. Mary’s 54-38 lead, their largest of the game. However, the Savage Storm offense finally woke up from its game-long sleep and outscored the Rattlers 26-12 over the next 10:19.
The hard work finally paid off for SOSU with 24 seconds left when Ashley Tucker hit a driving layup to tie the score at 64-64. The Rattlers then brought the ball back down the floor and, for the second straight game, Rachel Jones (Jr., Little Rock, Ark.) drove into the lane and found a wide-open player for a game-winning layup. Against Missouri-Rolla two weeks ago it was Juanita Merchant (Sr., Angleton) who hit the shot, while Sunday it was Moeller who made the shot. Tucker’s desperation shot at the buzzer was short and the Rattlers picked up the win.
Gamez (Jr., San Antonio) led all players with 24 points and added 12 rebounds to post her third double-double of the season. Moeller had 12 points, while Ashton Benford (Jr., Waxahachie) came off the bench to score 10 points and added five rebounds. As a team the Rattlers hit on 41.1 percent of their shots from the field, including 46.7 percent (7-15) of their shots from three-point range.
Jessica Hocker had a team-high 17 points for the Savage Storm, while Tucker had 14 points and both Channing Gann and Destiny Brown added 10 points.
With the win the Rattlers have now won seven straight games and improved to 8-4 overall this season. SOSU fell to 7-3.
In other action Sunday at the New Year’s Classic, the University of the Incarnate Word defeated the University of Montevello, 77-66. Incarnate Word and Southeastern Oklahoma will play in the first game Monday afternoon at 2 p.m., followed by St. Mary’s and Montevello will play at 4 p.m. at Bill Greehey Arena.