San Antonio – Ashton Benford and Rachel Jones each had at  least 20 points and 10 rebounds, helping St. Mary’s University to a 78-72 win over Texas A&M University-Commerce in women’s basketball action on the first day of the St. Mary’s Thanksgiving Classic, Friday at Bill Greehey Arena.

Benford (Sr., Waxahachie) hit on 9-of-12 shots from the field to score a season-high 22 points and pulled down 11 rebounds for her first double-double of the season. Jones (Sr., Little Rock, Ark.) made 9-of-15 shots for 20 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for her second 20-point game of the season. Natalie Gamez (Sr., San Antonio) had 15 points, eight rebounds and four assists, while Chastity Noble (Jr., El Paso) picked up 11 points and six assists.

St. Mary’s started the game off quickly, taking an 8-2 lead. TAMUC rallied to cut the Rattler lead to one point on a Nakazi Glover jumper and then took the lead at 26-25 on a Britney Jordan shot with 8:59 left in the half. That was when the Rattlers took over. Gamez scored five points in a 16-0 run over the next five minutes to give St. Mary’s a 41-26 lead with 4:26 left in the period. The Rattlers took a 46-36 lead into the break at the half.

St. Mary’s continued to lead comfortably until the 17:29 mark of the second half. That was when the Lions went on a 21-4 run to take a six-point lead at 62-56 with 9:45 left in the game. The Rattlers rallied to retake the lead on a lay-up by Benford with 5:42 left. A Noble three-pointer with 3:11 left increased the Rattler lead to six at 74-68, effectively sealing the victory for St. Mary’s.

In the first game of the tournament, the University of the Incarnate Word ran out to a 20-point lead, and then held off a late rally by Southwest Baptist University for a 73-65 win. Nia Torru led five Cardinals scoring in double figures with 20 points.

With the win the Rattlers are now 5-1 this season, while Texas A&M-Commerce is 2-1. St. Mary’s will wrap up play at the St. Mary’s Thanksgiving Classic on Saturday at 6 p.m. when they take on Southwest Baptist. Incarnate Word and Texas A&M-Commerce will meet in the first game of the day at 4 p.m.

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