San Antonio – St. Mary’s University opened its doors to students for the spring semester on Monday and will welcome back basketball to Bill Greehey Arena on Thursday as the Rattlers will face St. Edward’s University in a key Heartland Conference matchup. The women will take on the Hilltoppers at 5:30 p.m., followed by the men at 8 p.m.

A quick look at the Heartland Conference standings shows why these games are so important. On the women’s side St. Mary’s and St. Edward’s are tied for first place with identical 2-0 records. On the men’s side the Rattlers and Hilltoppers are tied for second place at 2-1, just one-half game behind first place Dallas Baptist University.

The Rattler women are 13-2 this season overall and have won their last two games. They are coming off a 57-46 win over Newman University last Saturday in Wichita, Kan. Natalie Gamez (Sr., San Antonio) leads the Rattlers with 17.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per game this season. She leads the Heartland Conference in scoring, three-pointers per game and three-point shooting percentage. Ashton Benford (Sr., Waxahachie) is averaging 11.5 points and 7.1 rebounds per contest, while Rachel Jones (Sr., Little Rock, Ark.) is scoring 11.4 and leads the team with nearly three-and-a-half assists per game. St. Edward’s is 8-7 overall, but has won four straight games entering Thursday’s game.

The Rattler men enter Thursday’s game with a two-game win streak after dropping three of the previous four games. St. Mary’s is coming off a 69-66 road win over Newman on Saturday. St. Mary’s brings a 7-7 overall record and 2-1 in Heartland Conference play.  Nick Morey (Sr., Belpre, Ohio) is the lone Rattler averaging in double figures this season with 17.5 points. He also leads the team in rebounding with 7.8 per contest. Freshman Marlon Smith (Fr., San Antonio) is second on the team in scoring with 9.8 points and 5.8 rebounds. The Hilltoppers are 8-6 overall, but have lost five of their last nine games after a 4-1 start. They defeated Lincoln University, 69-65, in their last game.

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