AUSTIN – Natalie Gamez scored a game-high 24 points to help lead a second half comeback as 21st-ranked St. Mary’s University rallied for a 67-65 victory against St. Edward’s University in Heartland Conference women’s basketball action Saturday at the Recreation and Convocation Center. In the men’s game the Rattlers held the Hilltoppers to 19 first-half points in a 74-65 upset win.
Gamez (Sr., San Antonio) hit on 7-of-14 shots from the field, including 3-of-6 from three-point range to top the 20-point mark for the 10th time this season. Mallory Moeller (So., Seguin) and Farren Fox (Jr., Marble Falls) each scored 10 points.
The Rattlers hit on just 36.7 percent (11-30) in the first half, while the Hilltoppers made a sizzling 62.5 percent (15-24) as the Hilltoppers took a 37-30 lead into the locker room at the break. That lead increased to eight points (42-34) on a Sophia Holguin layup with 16:36 left to play. That’s when the Rattler rally started. Rachel Jones (Sr., Little Rock, Ark.) scored six points during a 7-0 St. Mary’s run that cut the Hilltopper lead to just one at 42-41 with 14:29 left. Over the next eight minutes the two teams battled back and forth until Fox hit a jumper with 5:51 to give the Rattlers a one-point lead at 54-53. Gamez followed with a three-pointer and the Rattlers never trailed again.
In the men’s game defense was the name of the game. The Rattlers held the Hilltoppers to just 8-of-24 shots from the field in the first half on the way to a 14-point edge at the break (33-19). The lead expanded to as much as 18 points and the Hilltoppers never got within eight points the rest of the way.
Curtis Mitchell (Jr., Milwaukee, Wis.) led the Rattlers with a season-high 19 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field. Darren Lee (Jr., Stockton, Calif.) had 11 points, while Jeff Steinbaugh (Jr., Plano) added 10 points. In the game the Rattlers made 48.8 percent (20-41) of their shots from the field. They also made 30-of-40 free throws.
With the win the Rattlers have won eight straight and are 19-2 overall, 8-0 in Heartland Conference play. St. Edward’s fell to 10-12, 4-5. St. Mary’s swept the season series against the Hilltoppers. The Rattlers will return home on Thursday to face Oklahoma Panhandle State University at 5:30 p.m. in the first game of a women’s/men’s doubleheader at Bill Greehey Arena.