Abilene – Chastity Noble scored 15 points to lead five St. Mary’s University Rattlers scoring in double figures, as the Rattlers held off a late rally by Abilene Christian for a 69-66 win in non-conference women’s basketball action Monday night at Moody Coliseum in the season opener for both teams.
Monday’s game was key for both teams as it matched two teams that each reached the NCAA Division II South Central Region Tournament last season. But in the season-opener, it was the Rattlers who grabbed a key regional victory over the Wildcats.
Both teams had their struggles holding onto the ball, with each squad committing 25 turnovers in the contest. The Wildcats also went the first 5:11 of the game without a point and the first 5:35 of the contest without a field goal as St. Mary’s jumped out to a 10-0 lead.
The Wildcats, who trailed 41-35 at halftime, opened the second half on a 15-6 run that gave them a 50-47 lead with 14 minutes left in the game. Kat Kundmueller had five points in the run, including a 3-pointer on an assist from Autumn Whitaker that gave ACU its first lead of the night at 46-45 with 15:29 to play.
Kundmueller followed up the 3-pointer with a short jumper on a feed from Kelsey Darby-Holson to make it 48-45 with 14:50 left. Darby-Holson capped the run with a jumper to make it 50-47 with 14 minutes to play.
St. Mary’s would rally, however, regaining a lead it wouldn’t lose the rest of the night. The Rattlers, in fact, would rip off an 18-9 run of their own to take a 65-59 lead with 6:35 to play, eventually pushing the lead out to 67-61 with 5:37 left on a layup by DeAnna Patterson.
But ACU responded by cutting th elead 67-66 with 3:01 to play on a steal and layup by Whitaker. The Wildcats, however, wouldn’t score again as each team traded turnovers and missed shots.
ACU had the ball down by three points (69-66), but Courtney Laing missed a layup with 1:31 to play. Meyer missed a jumper with 48 seconds to play, but after Jody Meyer grabbed the rebound, the Wildcats lost the ball out of bounds.
After St. Mary’s missed a shot with less than 15 seconds left, ACU set up its offense for a game-tying 3-point attempt, but Jamie Meyer threw the ball away trying to get it back to Kundmueller at the top of the key. Chastity Noble chased down the loose ball, but she missed what would have been a game-clinching layup.
Kundmueller grabbed the rebound, but her three-quarter-length 3-point attempt was short, and St. Mary’s took home the victory.
With the win, the Rattlers improved to 1-0, while ACU fell to 0-1. St. Mary’s will return to action on Friday when they host Northeastern State University in the second game of the St. Mary’s University Classic at 7 p.m. at Bill Greehey Arena.
At Abilene, TX
St. Mary’s (Texas) 69, Abilene Christian 66