San Antonio – It had the makings of a classic St. Mary’s comeback against Incarnate Word, with Lamb Autrey draining an off-balance 3-pointer to make it a one-possession game with a dozen seconds remaining.
But no matter how many such shots the Rattlers fired across the way, the Cardinals always seemed to find an answer on their home court Monday night.
UIW’s Chris Johnson sank a pair of free throws with four seconds remaining to clinch a 66-62 victory over St. Mary’s, this seconds after Autrey hit a remarkable shot to keep the Rattlers’ comeback hopes alive in what was a breakout performance for the junior from Cibolo, Texas.
Autrey made 11 of 12 shots – including his one and only 3-pointer late – to score a season-high 23 points. Kevin Kotzur (So., La Vernia, Texas) had just as hot of a hand, going 9 for 10 from the floor for 19 points and 10 rebounds.
Autrey’s ice-in-the-veins showing marked the fourth-best single-game shooting percentage any Rattler had ever enjoyed, while Kotzur’s showing joined three other performances in a tie for fifth. No two Rattlers had ever combined to shoot so well together in a single outing since such records were kept.
The only problem? While the two shot an unthinkable 20 for 22, the rest of the Rattlers (4-4) made just 8 of 24 shots – not to mention the team totaled 26 turnovers.
Turnovers plagued the Rattlers throughout, as they dug themselves a 31-22 halftime hole. The deficit swelled to 13 in the second half, but just as things looked the bleakest the Rattlers began to find their touch.
Jeremy Fonteneaux (Jr., DeSoto, Texas) made a wild, left-handed layup to trim the deficit to 40-35 with 12:05 remaining, and Autrey answered moments later with a layup that cut the deficit to three – bringing the Rattlers as close as they had been all half.
But UIW regained its footing, pushing the lead back up to a dozen before the Rattlers would once again start chipping way.
St. Mary’s went on a 9-1 run to close the gap to 56-52, setting up Autrey and the rest of the Rattlers for a potential last-second display.
But while Autrey drained the 3-pointer that cut the score to 62-60, UIW ensured they wouldn’t get a chance to do anymore damage.
Autrey, who even converted an alley-oop dunk in the game, added eight rebounds on the night. Point guard Josh Orta (So., San Antonio) chipped in 8 points and 8 assists.