Red-Hot Rattlers Hit the Road for Final Regular Season Games: With a Heartland Conference Tournament berth already clinched, St. Mary’s looks to prepare for the event and try to improve on their seeding this week when they travel to Oklahoma Panhandle State and Texas-Permian Basin in the final regular season games of 2006-07. The Rattlers defeated then-conference leader St. Edward’s 68-57 Monday night to clinch a berth in the tournament and throw monkey wrench in the conference standings. With the win there is now only one game separating first from fourth in the conference. The Rattlers are peaking at the right time, having won their last four games and five of the last six.
About Oklahoma Panhandle State: A four-game losing streak of late has officially knocked the Aggies out of Heartland playoff contention. They advanced to the Heartland Tournament championship last season before falling to St. Mary’s. They are 7-18 overall this season and 2-6 in HC play. Leading the way in scoring for the Aggies is Megan Hamilton with 12.7 points per game. As a team the Aggies average 63.4 points, while allowing 68.7. They shoot 37.4 percent from the field, while their opponents hit on 40.1 percent. They average nearly 20 turnovers per game.
St. Mary’s vs. Oklahoma Panhandle State: The Rattlers hold a 9-4 edge in the series between the teams. St. Mary’s won the first meeting this season 72-59 in San Antonio. The two met three times last season, including the Heartland Tournament Championship, which St. Mary’s won 69-64 in San Antonio. OPSU won 74-66 in Goodwell, while St. Mary’s won 77-62 in San Antonio during the regular season. OPSU swept the season series during the 2004-05 season, while the Rattlers did the same in 2003-04. The Rattlers are just 2-4 in Goodwell against the Aggies.
About Texas-Permian Basin: The Falcons are still looking for their first win as a provisional NCAA Division II member, going 0-21 so far this season. Only three times this season has their losses been by fewer than 10 points. They dropped a two-point decision to Sul Ross State (Division III) and were edged twice by Lincoln, by five and six points. Three Falcons are scoring in double figures, led by Calli Smith with 11.8 points per game. As a team the Falcons are scoring 59.0 points, while allowing 84.2 per contest. They shoot 34.7 percent from the field, while their opponents hit on 44.8 percent. They are also getting outrebounded 49.8 to 37.1.
St. Mary’s vs. Texas-Permian Basin: The teams met for the first time earlier this season with the Rattlers picking up a 71-51 win at Bill Greehey Arena.
Gamez, Rattlers Pull Away from St. Edward’s, Clinch Tournament Berth: Natalie Gamez scored 28 points and helped lead St. Mary’s University on a big second half run as the Rattlers defeated St. Edward’s, 68-57. Gamez came off the bench to hit on 8-of-13 shots from the field and 5-of-8 from three-point range to score her second highest point total of the season. The only other Rattler to score in double figures was Dawn Killian with 14 points. After a first half that saw the Rattlers fall behind by as much as 12 points, the Rattlers quickly took control in the second half and then pulled away late. The Rattlers started the second half with a 13-4 run to turn a 32-26 deficit into a 39-36 lead. After the Hilltoppers rallied to take a 45-41 lead on a Haley Tidwell three-pointer the Rattlers went on another run. Gamez hit another three pointer to cut the deficit to one at 45-44, then Dawn Killian followed to give St. Mary’s the lead for good. That kicked off a 17-3 run that turned that four-point deficit into a 10-point lead. From there the Rattlers were never headed.
Benford Earns Heartland Honors for Second Straight Week: Ashton Benford was named Heartland Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Week for her play against Montana State-Billings and Texas A&M International. Benford helped the Rattlers to Heartland Conference wins against the Yellowjackets and Dustdevils. Against the MSUB she had a season-best 15 rebounds and eight points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field. She followed up with 15 points and five rebounds against the Dustdevils on 6-of-9 shooting from the field and 3-of-4 from the free throw line. For the week she averaged 11.5 points and 10.0 rebounds per game, hitting on 62.5 percent of her shots from the field.