San Antonio – Ray Marshall wasn’t even expecting to play Friday night, not after suffering a hip pointer earlier this week.
But with the St. Mary’s men’s basketball team flat in the early goings against Southeastern Oklahoma State, the Rattlers turned to the junior post from El Paso, Texas midway through the first half.
Marshall didn’t disappoint.
Providing a spark off the bench with his display of toughness, Marshall scored 10 points and grabbed four rebounds to help the Rattlers dust off a shaky start to beat Southeastern Oklahoma State 72-65 in the St. Mary’s River City Classic at Bill Greehey Arena.
Kevin Kotzur (So., San Antonio) led the Rattlers with 17 points, while Josh Orta (So., San Antonio) added 10 points and six assists to help St. Mary’s overcome a 12-point first half deficit.
“We’ve kind of had a problem since the beginning of the season in the first half,” Marshall said. “We come out flat on our feet. We came in at halftime knowing we had not playing worth a lick in the first half. But as bad as we were playing, we were only down about 10. We knew we had to gut it out and man up.”
In the front end of Friday’s double header, Texas A&M Commerce ran past Texas A&M International 88-54.
The Rattlers (4-2) will face off against A&M Commerce at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Greehey Arena, while A&M International and Southeastern Oklahoma State will meet up at 5 p.m.
Against A&M Commerce, Marshall said the Rattlers know they can’t afford the slow start they endured Friday.
Struggling to find their shot, the Rattlers could only watch as Southeastern Oklahoma State went on a 12-2 run to lead 25-13 with about six minutes left in the first half. St. Mary’s heated up a little before halftime, closing the gap to nine at the break on Brad Hubenak’s buzzer-beating layup, but it still lacked the necessary spark.
Coach Jim Zeleznak said his squad almost played “emotionless,” something he said can’t happen in a sport that requires such high intensity.
The Rattlers were able to flip the switch in the second half.
St. Mary’s went on an 8-0 run midway through the half, turning a 44-39 deficit into a 47-44 lead following a sequence that was capped off by a Kotzur layup.
Following several responses from Southeastern Oklahoma State, Gordon Ward drained a jumper with 7:23 left for a 52-50 lead, putting the Rattlers up for good.