CANYON, Texas – The St. Mary’s University women’s basketball team will open play at the NCAA Division II South Central Region Tournament Friday night at 8:30 p.m. against 7th-ranked West Texas A&M University.

The Rattlers are in the NCAA South Central Region Tournament for the third straight year and the sixth time since the Rattlers moved to NCAA Division II in 2000. Two years ago, St. Mary’s fell to the University of Central Oklahoma in overtime, 75-73. Last season the Rattlers were defeated by Emporia State University, 78-75, also in overtime. The Rattlers are 1-5 in NCAA South Central Region play. Their lone win came against Cameron University during the 2001-2002 season, by a 64-61 count.

St. Mary’s is led by Heartland Conference Newcomer of the Year Kristin Williams (Jr., Kansas City), who is averaging 11.7 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. Chastity Noble (Sr., El Paso, Texas) is the only other Rattler scoring in double figures with 11.2 points and 2.4 assists per game. Noble was named first team All-Heartland Conference for the first time this season. Liz Boyd (Fr., San Antonio) has made an immediate impact on the team and was rewarded with Heartland Conference Freshman of the Year honors. Boyd is averaging 7.7 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.

The Rattlers success is dependent on their defense. St. Mary’s is fifth in the nation in points allowed, giving up just 53.6 points per contest. They also outrebound their opponents by 6.0 per game, the 26th best total in NCAA Division II. The Rattlers have been especially hard to beat from the outside, as they lead the nation in 3-point field goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to make just 25.1 percent of their shots from beyond the 3-point arc.

St. Mary’s advanced to the regional tournament for the third straight year after defeating the University of the Incarnate Word, 61-46, Saturday afternoon in the Heartland Conference Championship game. St. Mary’s is 22-7 this season and has won its last three games in a row. The 22 wins marks the third straight season that St. Mary’s has won at least 20 games, just the second time in school history that has been accomplished. The Rattlers are making their third straight trip to the postseason for the first time since the 1996-1997 season.

West Texas A&M is 29-3 overall and has won 12 of its last 13 games. The Lady Buffs won the Lone Star Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament Saturday night, rallying from a 10-point deficit to defeat Northeastern State University, 66-59. St. Mary’s and West Texas A&M have already met once this season: on Nov. 27 in Canyon, with the Buffaloes winning 70-49.

Fans wanting to keep up with the action live will have multiple options to watch and listen to the Rattlers. St. Mary’s will stream live audio of the game, starting at 8:25 CST. The NCAA will offer a live video broadcast, as well as live stats of the game.

2010 NCAA Division II South Central Region Tournament
March 12-15
Canyon, Texas

(#3) Northeastern State University vs. (#6) University of Central Oklahoma, Noon
(#2) Washburn University vs. (#7) University of Central Missouri, 2:30 p.m.
(#4) Emporia State University vs. (#5) Tarleton State University, 6 p.m.
(#1) West Texas A&M University vs. (#8) St. Mary’s University, 8:30 p.m.

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