Rolling Rattlers Face Crosstown Rival Cardinals: With wins in each of their last three games, and four of their last five, St. Mary’s has turned a disappointing start into a hopefully finish to the season. The Rattlers still are just 5-9 overall on the season, but are one of just three undefeated teams in the Heartland Conference, with their next opponent, Incarnate Word, being one of the other two. The Rattlers have been off for the last nine days since a 71-51 win over Texas-Permian Basin. After taking on UIW, the Rattlers will hit the road for the next five games.

About St. Mary’s: With wins in four of their last five games the Rattlers are playing their best ball of the season as they enter Heartland Conference play. Charlena Rodez leads three Rattlers scoring in double figures this season with 14.1 points per contest. Natalie Gamez is right behind her with 13.9 points per game. Ashton Benford is nearly averaging a double-double with 10.7 points and a conference-high 8.8 rebounds per game. As a team the Rattlers are scoring 59.8 points per contest, while allowing 65.1. They shoot 39.7 percent, while opponents are making 40.2 percent. St. Mary’s is being outrebounded by opponents 37.7 to 35.7.

About Incarnate Word: After a 1-5 start to the season, the Cardinals have won five of the last eight games to improve to 6-8 overall and 1-0 in the Heartland. The Cardinals Achilles heel has been playing away from how as they are 4-2 at UIW and 2-6 away. They edged Oklahoma Panhandle State, 59-51 in their conference opener on Jan. 6. Nia Torru is one of two Cardinals scoring in double figures with 12.5 points per game. Kim Robinson is also averaging in double figures with 12.0. As a team UIW is scoring 63.2 points per game, while allowing 63.8. They shoot 37.7 percent from the field, while allowing opponents to make 45.0 percent. Their defense is forcing nearly 20 turnovers per game.

St. Mary’s vs. Incarnate Word: The Rattlers hold a paper-thin 21-20 lead in the all-time series against the Cardinals. St. Mary’s leads 12-10 in games at St. Mary’s, while UIW leads 10-9 across town. St. Mary’s has been strong in recent years, winning nine of the last 12 meetings. The teams split the series last season, with UIW winning 69-67 in overtime at St. Mary’s, while the Rattlers returned the favor, winning 73-69 in overtime at UIW. The Rattlers swept the season series in 2004-05, winning 59-54 at St. Mary’s and 62-60 at UIW.

St. Mary´s Rolls Past Texas-Permian Basin, 71-51: Natalie Gamez led three Rattlers scoring in double figures with 16 points as St. Mary’s rolled to its third straight win, 71-51, over Texas-Permian Basin. Gamez hit on 5-of-14 shots from the field and 5-of-6 from the free throw line to lead all players. Charlena Rodez had 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while Ashton Benford had 12 points and nine rebounds, just missing her second straight double-double. Benford scored the first two baskets of the game for the Rattlers as St. Mary’s hit on seven of its first nine shots from the field to take a commanding 22-6 lead at the 10:50 mark of the first half. That lead would expand to as much as 21 points before the break and the Rattlers took a 39-19 lead into the locker room at the break. In the second half the Rattlers would lead by as much as 28 points before settling for the final margin of 20.

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