San Antonio – The University of Nebraska Omaha held St. Mary’s University scoreless for the first nine minutes of the game in building up a big early lead, then held off a late Rattler rally in a 74-70 win for UNO on the first day of the River City Classic Men’s Basketball Tournament at Bill Greehey Arena Saturday night.
Nebraska-Omaha continued to lead by double-digits into the final 10 minutes of the game before the Rattlers rally began in earnest. A three-pointer by Darren Lee (Jr., Stockton, Calif.) with 9:06 left to play pulled the Rattlers to within eight points at 53-45. Nick Morey (Sr., Belpre, Ohio) sank a pair of free throws with 7:30 left to make it a six-point game at 55-49. A Morey lay-up with 4:27 left to play made it a five-point game. UNO then looked to have the game iced when they increased their advantage to eight with 3:51 left on an Aaron Terry lay-up.
Lee hit another jumper for the Rattlers to cut the lead to six and followed with a three-pointer on the next possession to make it a three-point game at 68-65 with just 2:44 left. Michael Jenkins hit one of two free throws for the Mavericks to increase the lead back to four points. But Morey responded with the last of his 19 points on a lay-up in the traffic to cut the lead to just two points with 1:55 left. The teams traded three-pointers on the next two possessions to keep the lead at two points then the Rattlers forced a turnover with 34 seconds left to give them the ball with an opportunity to take the last shot. But the Rattlers committed a turnover and Tyler Albers hit two free throws to seal the win.
Morey posted his second straight double-double with 19 points and 15 rebounds. Lee had 17 points, while Ronald Tata (Sr., Houston) came off the bench to score 13 points. Bridger led the Mavericks with 16 points.
The game started off with the Mavericks dominating. The Rattlers missed their first 14 shots, allowing UNO to take a commanding 16-0 lead over the first nine minutes of the game. However, the Rattlers slowly started to rally and when Luiz Moriera (Sr., Brasilia, Brazil) made a lay-up with 2:48 left, St. Mary’s had pulled to within just four points at 25-21. However, UNO ended the first half with a 6-0 run to take a 10-point lead into the locker room at 31-21.
The Rattlers will continue play at the River City Classic on Sunday when they take on 24th-ranked Harding University at 7:30 p.m. in Bill Greehey Arena. The game will be broadcast live over the internet at www.rattlerathletics.com. Play at the River City Classic will continue on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. with Eastern New Mexico University facing Northwest Missouri State University.