San Antonio – St. Mary’s University women’s basketball players Natalie Gamez and Rachel Jones were each named first team All-Heartland Conference in the annual Heartland Conference awards announced on Tuesday.
Gamez (Sr., San Antonio) was a first team pick and leads the team with 17.3 points and 6.0 rebounds per game this season. She is hitting on 42.8 percent of her shots from the field, including 38.3 percent from three-point range. Gamez has reached double figures in 22 of 25 games this season, including 11 games with 20 or more points. She scored a career-high 31 points against Southwest Baptist University earlier this season. She has been named Heartland Conference Player of the Week four times. Gamez has been named All-Heartland Conference three times in her career.
Jones (Sr., Little Rock, Ark.) also earned first team honors. She is averaging 11.7 points, and leads the team in rebounding with 6.4 and assists with 4.1 per contest. Jones has scored in double figures in 16 of 27 games. She has four double-doubles this season. Jones scored a career-high 27 points against St. Edward’s University earlier this season. She was a second team All-Heartland Conference pick last season.
Benford (Sr., Waxahachie) was named honorable mention All-Heartland Conference. She is picking up 10.7 points and 5.9 rebounds per game this season. She is second on the team, shooting 46.7 percent from the field this season. She has three double-doubles and has scored in double figures in 15 of 27 games this season. She has scored a season-high 22 points twice. Benford has earned All-Heartland Conference honors three times during her career.
The 16th-ranked Rattlers are 23-4 overall this season and 12-2 in Heartland Conference play. They are the top seed in the Heartland Conference Tournament, which will be played on Friday and Saturday this week at Bill Greehey Arena. The Rattlers will face St. Edward’s University at noon on Friday in the opening round. Excitement is building as the Rattlers move up in the national and regional polls because St. Mary’s will host the NCAA Division II Women’s Elite 8 (March 24, 25 and 27).
Player of the Year: Nia Torru, Incarnate Word
Newcomer of the Year: Ashley Norris, Lincoln
Defensive Player of the Year: Krystal Manning, Texas A&M-International
Freshman of the Year: Tammy Acosta, Texas-Permian Basin
Coach of the Year: Daryl Vincent, Texas A&M-International
ALL-HEARTLAND WOMEN’S BASKETBALL FIRST TEAM: Natalie Gamez (St. Mary’s), Nia Torru (Incarnate Word), Rachel Jones (St. Mary’s), Jasmine June (Texas A&M-International), Mary Tobias (Texas A&M-International)
ALL-HEARTLAND WOMEN’S BASKETBALL SECOND TEAM: Sara Head (St. Edward’s), Cinnamon Kava (Incarnate Word), Tammy Acosta (Texas-Permian Basin), Ashley Norris (Lincoln), Kelli Payton (St. Edward’s)
ALL-HEARTLAND WOMEN’S BASKETBALL HONORABLE MENTION: Hayley Harvey (UIW), Ashton Benford (StMU), Rainey Nickel (NU), Kariz Bioni (OPSU), Krystal Manning (TAMIU), Sophia Holguin (StEU)