San Antonio – Natalie Gamez scored 26 of her career high 31 points in the second half, leading St. Mary’s University to a come-from-behind 71-67 victory over Southwest Baptist University in women’s basketball action in the St. Mary’s Thanksgiving Classic Saturday night at Bill Greehey Arena.

Gamez (Sr., San Antonio) hit on 9-of-15 shots from the field, including 4-of-5 from three-point range. She added 11 rebounds to post her second double-double of the season. She has scored 20 or more points in four of seven games this season and has reached double figures in all seven games.

After trailing by as much as 16 points in the first half, St. Mary’s scored the final six points of the period, and then took that momentum into the second half. Gamez scored eight points to complete the 23-7 run that tied the game at 39-39. After the teams traded baskets, Mallory Moeller (So., Seguin) gave St. Mary’s a 46-45 lead with a driving lay-up. A Rachel Jones (Sr., Little Rock, Ark.) three-point play made it a four-point game and Gamez scored the next three baskets, including a three-pointer with 7:14 left that gave the Rattlers a 56-47 lead.

SBU then took its turn to rally as Courtney Creed hit back-to-back three-pointers, helping the Bearkats cut the Rattler lead to just one at 58-57 with 5:20 left. From there the Rattlers hit on six-of-eight free throws down the stretch and Gamez hit another clutch three-pointer to ice the win for St. Mary’s.

The Rattlers started the first half off hot, taking a 7-2 lead on a pair of early Mallory Moeller lay-ups, the second with 15:09 remaining to give the Rattlers the five-point edge. But SBU rallied with a 16-2 run, keyed by a pair of Mia Gilreath three-pointers to take a commanding 18-9 lead. That advantage expanded to 16 points at 32-16 with 1:25 left in the half on a Jaime Garrett three-pointer. However, the Rattlers cut into the lead with back-to-back three-pointers by Gamez and Chastity Noble (Jr., El Paso) to make it a 10-point game at the break.

In the first game of the day the University of the Incarnate Word completed a perfect run through the tournament with an 88-82 win against Texas A&M University-Commerce. Nia Torru led the Cardinals with 29 points, while Nikki Brown added 21 points. For the Lions Britney Jordan was the high scorer with 31 points, leading five players scoring in double figures.

St. Mary’s improved to 6-1 overall with the victory. The win was the fourth in a row for the Rattlers, who are also undefeated at home this season. Southwest Baptist fell to 0-2 this season. The Rattlers and Cardinals tied for the tournament title with 2-0 records, while TAMUC and SBU each were 0-2. St. Mary’s will return to action on Friday, Dec. 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the first round of the Arkansas-Monticello Classic.

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