San Antonio – Natalie Gamez’s two free throws with five seconds left in the game capped an incredible St. Mary’s University rally from 16 points down with five minutes left in the game, lifting the Rattlers to a 61-60 win over the University of Arkansas-Monticello in women’s basketball action Friday night at Steelman Fieldhouse.
The game was a six-point contest at the half, but early in the second period UAM went on a 7-0 run to take a 35-24 lead with 16:05 left in the game. Monticello kept the lead in double digits for most of the rest of the game, peaking at 16 points (55-39) on a three-point play by Andrea Dubose with 5:28 left to play. That was when the Rattlers finally got on track. Gamez (Sr., San Antonio) scored seven of her 11 points over the final five minutes, keying a 22-5 run over the final 4:21 to give the Rattlers the win.
Gamez started the rally with a jumper, making it a 14-point game. Rachel Jones (Sr., Little Rock, Ark.) stole the ball from Nicole Lowe on the next possession and turned that into a lay-up, making it a 12-point game. A missed shot by UAM on the next possession gave the Rattlers another opportunity and Ashton Benford (Sr., Waxahachie) converted it into a lay-up to make it a 10-point game with 3:25 left. A steal by Gamez was converted into a basket by Farren Fox (Jr., Marble Falls) with 2:21 left to cut the lead to single digits at 55-47.
After a basket by Jenica Hubard increased the lead back to 10 points, Fox kept the Rattler run going with a three-pointer to pull the Rattlers to within seven at 57-50 with 1:28 to play. A Dubose lay-up made it a nine point game, but again the Rattlers responded when Chastity Noble nailed a three-pointer, cutting the deficit to six at 59-53 with 1:09 to play. After Nicole Lowe made one-of-two free throws, Gamez hit on the Rattlers third straight three-pointer to cut the UAM lead to just four at 60-56. Lowe missed two free throws on the next possession and Jones made it a one-point game when she converted on a three-point play with 41 seconds left. A turnover for UAM on the next possession gave the Rattlers the ball with 16 seconds left. Jones missed her shot with five seconds left, but Gamez got the rebound and was fouled. She converted on both shots to give the Rattlers the win.
Jones led all players with 23 points and added 11 rebounds for her first double-double of the season. Gamez added 12 points and six rebounds, while Fox had 11 points and five rebounds. Benford had 11 rebounds. As a team the Rattlers shot just 36.5 percent from the field (23-63) and hit on just 22.2 percent (4-18) of their shots from three point range, but made their final three attempts. St. Mary’s outrebounded Monticello 47-38 and forced 18 turnovers.
With the win, the Rattlers have now won five straight games and are 7-1 overall this season. They have won 31 of their last 32 regular season games. Arkansas-Monticello suffered its first loss of the season and fell to 5-1. The Rattlers will wrap up play at the Holiday Inn Express Classic on Saturday night against Southern Arkansas University at 2 p.m.