Rivals Clash for Second Time This Season: St. Mary’s looks to get back on the right track when it heads cross-town to take on rival Incarnate Word Saturday night at the McDermott Center. The Rattlers have lost four of their last five games since winning three in a row at the start of the calender year. The losing streak started with a 69-63 loss to UIW at Bill Greehey Arena on Jan. 15. Two of the losses in that stretch have come in overtime and all have been by 10 points or less. After Saturday’s game the Rattlers return home for the next five games. They currently stand in fourth place in the Heartland Conference standings, but are just one game out of second place.
About St. Mary’s: The Rattlers are wrapping up a disappointing road trip on Saturday, but could improve on that trip with a win Saturday. The Rattlers are 1-3 on their five-game trip to this point. The Rattlers have struggled on the offensive end, averaging 59.7 points per game and shooting 39.1 percent from the field. They are also committing 18.4 turnovers per game this season. However, defensively they have one of the best teams in the Heartland Conference. They are holding opponents to just 64.5 points per game and just 39.2 percent shooting from the field, tops in the HC. They are also forcing 17.1 turnovers per game. Natalie Gamez leads the team and is fourth in the Heartland with 15.1 points per game this season. Charlena Rodez is right behind her in sixth with 13.9 per contest. Ashton Benford is first in the Heartland in rebounding with 8.5 per game and blocked shots with 1.37 and is second in field goal percentage with a 49.3 mark.
About Incarnate Word: The Cardinals have struggled lately as well, dropping their last two games and three of their last five. They are coming off a 66-65 loss at Montana State-Billings. They are currently tied for second in the Heartland with a 3-2 record and are 9-11 overall. Iesha Sledge was named HC player of the week last week and is second in the team in scoring with 8.7 points per game. She leads the HC in free throw shooting with a 90.2 percent average from the line. Nia Torru leads the Cardinals with 14.7 points per game, fifth in the Heartland. As a team UIW is averaging 63.3 points per game offensively and rank second in the HC with 63.2 points allowed per game. The shoot 37.6 percent from the field, while their opponents make 44.8 percent. They lead the Heartland with a turnover margin of +3.20.
St. Mary’s vs. Incarnate Word: The all-time series between the teams is tied at 21-21 after the Cardinals 69-63 overtime win earlier this season at Bill Greehey Arena. St. Mary’s leads 12-11 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 13 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.