San Antonio – St. Mary’s University will face top-seeded West Texas A&M University in the first round of the NCAA Division II South Central Region Tournament, which will be held in Canyon, Texas, on March 12-15.
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.
“It’s a great accomplishment just to go to the NCAA South Central Region Tournament three straight years,” Head Coach Jason Martens said. “Each team in this run has taken a different route. This has probably the team that I have had the most fun being a part of. For us to win the Heartland Conference championship as an underdog; that was a lot of fun. Now, we are hoping to have some more success than we have in the past at the regional tournament.”
Also for the third straight year, the Rattlers will travel to Canyon, Texas, for the regional tournament. 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.
“(Going to the same place again) is an advantage in regards to the familiarity of it,” Martens said. “We will stay in the same hotel we stayed at the last two years. It would be more of an advantage if we weren’t playing the home team though.”
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.
Martens said of the Rattlers chances against the Buffaloes, “One, we are going to have to handle their physical play. Two, we have to take care of the ball and defend. When we take care of the ball, we have more success.”
2010 NCAA Division II South Central Region Tournament
(#1) West Texas A&M University vs. (#8) St. Mary’s University
(#4) Emporia State University vs. (#5) Tarleton State University
(#3) Northeastern State University vs. (#6) University of Central Oklahoma
(#2) Washburn University vs. (#7) University of Central Missouri