San Antonio – Ashton Benford scored a game-high 18 points to lead St. Mary’s University to a convincing 52-40 win over Southern Arkansas University on the final day of the Holiday Inn Express Classic, played at Steelman Fieldhouse on Saturday. With the win the Rattlers claimed the tournament title with a 2-0 record.

Benford (Sr., Waxahachie) scored 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field. She also pulled down seven rebounds. No other Rattler scored in double figures in the game. Rachel Jones (Sr., Little Rock, Ark.) had eight points, eight rebounds and four assists. Farren Fox (Jr., Marble Falls) scored eight points and had six rebounds. As a team the Rattlers outrebounded SAU 40-22.

Southern Arkansas led just once in the game, 2-0 in the opening moments. But the Rattlers quickly took the lead and never trailed again. Their lead in the first half was as much as 15 points, but a 12-0 run to end the half by Southern pulled them to within three points at the break at 25-22. Benford led the Rattlers on an 8-0 to start the second half that moved the lead back into double digits and SAU never was closer than eight points the rest of the way.

As a team the Rattlers shot 42.6 percent (20-47) in the game, but hit on 50.0 percent (11-22) of their shots in the second half. Meanwhile they held SAU to just 30.2 percent in the game (13-43), including 18.2 percent (4-22) in the second half. Southern also failed to make a three-pointer in the game, going 0-for-10.

With the win the Rattlers are now 8-1 this season and have won five straight games. They have also won 32 of their last 33 regular season games, dating back to last season. Southern Arkansas fell to 4-6. The Rattlers will return to action on Friday, Dec. 19, when they travel to La Jolla, Calif., to face the University of California at San Diego at 7 p.m.

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