San Antonio – The University of West Florida used a pair of big runs early in the second half to break open a close game and defeat St. Mary’s University, 72-54, in men’s basketball action Saturday night at the UWF Fieldhouse in the season opener for both teams.

Nick Morey (Sr., Belpre, Ohio) led the way for the Rattlers with 13 points, while Marlon Smith (Fr., San Antonio) scored 12 points, pulled down eight rebounds and dished out four assists in his Rattler debut. Curtis Mitchell (Jr., Milwaukee, Wis.) scored nine points in his Rattler debut.

The game was a back-and-forth affair for most of the first half, until UWF went on a 12-3 run to end the period, giving them a 30-27 lead at the break. Then a 10-1 run early in the second half expanded the West Florida lead to double digits at 43-31 with 15:00 minutes left in the game. The Rattlers fought back to cut the deficit to just six points on a Smith layup with 10:54 to play, but UWF responded with a 12-1 run that gave them a commanding 17-point edge with 6:31 left to play.

Only one player for West Florida scored in double figures in the game, Chris Brown, who had 14 points. But five players scored eight or more points to lead a balanced attack.

With the loss, the Rattlers are 0-1 this season. UWF is 1-0. St. Mary’s will wrap up play at the UWF Hoop Classic on Sunday against Nova Southeastern University at 4 p.m.

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