San Antonio–Natalie Gamez scored 21 points and St. Mary’s University forced 26 turnovers by Lincoln University as the Rattlers rolled to a 67-53 win in the Heartland Conference women’s basketball opener for both teams Thursday night at Bill Greehey Arena.

St. Mary’s took control of the game early and never let up in a dominating win. The Blue Tigers took their one and only lead of the game at the 15:27 mark of the second half on a layup by Quenita Washington. After that the Rattlers went on a 20-3 run over the next eight minutes to take a commanding 15-point lead at 26-11 with 7:03 left in the half. That lead would grow to 18 points when Gamez (Jr., San Antonio) hit a three-pointer with 20 seconds left in the first half and the Rattlers took a 38-20 lead at the break.

With head coach Jason Martens emptying his bench in the second half Lincoln kept within 10-15 points most of the second half, but never cut the lead to single digits and the Ratters were never seriously threatened.

Gamez led all players with 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field, including 3-of-6 from three-point range. Rachel Jones (Jr., Little Rock, Ark.) also reached double figures with 12 points, four assists and five steals. Allison Reed (Fr., Palestine) came off the bench to score seven points and pull down three rebounds in just nine minutes of play. As a team the Rattlers shot 42.4 percent (25-59) from the field and outrebounded the Blue Tigers 36-30. St. Mary’s forced 26 turnovers, while committing just 15 themselves.

Three Blue Tigers scored in double figures: Stacey Smith and Washington with 11 points, while Claire Jenkins added 10 points.

With the win the Rattlers have now won nine straight games and are 10-4 overall this season, 1-0 in Heartland play. Lincoln fell to 1-9 and 0-1. St. Mary’s will return to action on Saturday when they host Newman University in Heartland Conference matchup at Bill Greehey Arena, starting at 5:30 p.m.

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