LA JOLLA, Calif. – Jessie Smith scored a career-high 17 points and St. Mary’s University hit on 24-of-28 free throws in the game as the Rattlers defeated the University of California at San Diego, 75-65, in the first round of the University of California at San Diego Invitational Friday night.

Smith (Sr., Boerne) came off the bench to hit on 3-of-4 shots from the field and 10-of-12 from the free throw line in the game. She also pulled down eight rebounds and dished out three assists in just 25 minutes of action. Smith’s career high prior to Friday night was eight points.She was one of four Rattlers to score in double figures. Ashton Benford (Sr., Waxahachie) had 17 points and eight rebounds, Natalie Gamez (Sr., San Antonio) scored 15 points, while Rachel Jones (Sr., Little Rock, Ark.) added 13 points and five assists.

The first half was a back-and-forth affair with six lead changes and five ties. However, it was the Rattlers who finished strong, outscoring UCSD 14-2 to end the half. Benford scored six points in the run, while Jones scored the last two baskets to give St. Mary’s a commanding 35-26 lead at the half.

San Diego came out of the locker room hot, outscoring the Rattlers 11-1 over the first 4:25 of the period. St. Mary’s was able to keep a slim lead for most of the period, with Smith leading the way. The game turned on a 16-4 Rattler run that turned a one-point lead with 7:25 left to play into a commanding 13-point advantage with 1:43 left.

In the game the Rattlers hit on 44.2 percent (23-52) of their shots from the field, including 45.5 percent (5-11) of their three-pointers. They made 24-of-28 free throws for a sizzling 85.7 percent. Their only struggles were in turnover as they committed 22 in the contest. UCSD hit on 37.9 percent of their shots (22-58). Michelle Osier led USD with 21 points.

With the win the Rattlers have now won seven straight games and are 9-1 overall. USD dropped its first game of the season and is now 7-1. St. Mary’s will wrap up play in the UCSD Invitational when they take on the California State University at San Bernardino at 6 p.m.

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