CANYON – Rachel Jones led four St. Mary’s University players in double figures with 18 points, but Emporia State held off the Rattlers, 78-75, in overtime at the NCAA Division II South Central Region Tournament Friday night at the First Bank Center.
With 6:25 left in regulation the Rattlers trailed the Hornets 54-47. Chastity Noble (Jr., El Paso) led the Rattler comeback, scoring the next five points to pull the Rattlers to within two points at 54-52 with 4:51 left. Ida Edwards hit a pair of free throws to give ESU a four-point lead again with 3:20 to play. Mallory Moeller (So., Seguin) made three free throws to pull the Rattlers to within one and Jones (Sr., Little Rock, Ark.) hit a short jumper in the lane to give the Rattlers the lead at 59-58 with 2:07 left.
A Lacy Corker three-pointer with 46 seconds left gave ESU a 63-61 lead. Allie Renberg followed with two free throws to make it a four-point game with 24 seconds left. Jones rallied the Rattlers with a driving layup to cut the lead to two-points and converted on the three-point play to make it a one-point game with 15 seconds to go. Edwards made two more free throws with eight seconds left to give Emporia a three-point advantage. Natalie Gamez (Sr., San Antonio) took the inbound coming out of the timeout and banked in a three-pointer with 0.8 seconds left to tie the game and send it into overtime.
After falling behind early in the extra period, the Rattlers rallied and took the lead on a pair of Ashton Benford (Sr., Waxahachie) free throws with 2:49 left. Jones made it a three-point game with two more shots from the charity stripe. Cassondra Boston hit a short jumper with 1:24 left to cut the lead to one and Corker hit a layup to give ESU the lead with 57 left. Benford’s rebound and put back with 34 seconds left gave the Rattlers the lead. But Boston hit a layup with 24 seconds left to give ESU the lead at 76-64. Noble missed a short jumper in the lane with seven seconds left, but got her own rebound. However, her second shot was off as well and Renberg hit her free throws to seal the win.
“That was one heck of a game,” Rattler head coach Jason Martens said. “It’s frustrating losing here in overtime in back-to-back years. Our girls played exceptional, but you have to give Emporia credit, they played well and they are a great team.”
In her final game as a Rattler Gamez had one of her best all-around game, scoring 16 points, pulling down eight rebounds, dishing out six assists and making four steals in 43 minutes of play. Jones led the Rattlers with 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Moeller picked up a double-double with 13 points and a career-high 15 rebounds. Benford had 14 points and three rebounds in her final game as a Rattler.
St. Mary’s started the game on fire, taking an 18-2 lead over the first seven minutes of the game. But ESU rallied and finished the half on a 27-11 run to tie the game at the break.
With the loss the Rattlers finished the 2008-2009 season with a 24-6 record. Emporia State improved to 26-5 and will advance to the South Central Regional semifinals Saturday at 8 p.m.