San Antonio – When the Rattlers got word that shooting guard Lamb Autrey would miss time with a foot injury, they knew someone would have to step up in his absence.

D.J. Castro and John Roberts were two of many players who embraced that challenge Saturday.

Castro scored nine points while Roberts added seven in their most extensive playing time of the season, helping the Rattlers cruise past Newman University 78-66 at Bill Greehey Arena.

The victory kept the Heartland Conference-leading Rattlers (11-5, 5-0) perfect in league play.

“We knew that we had players that needed to step up,” said Castro, an El Paso, Texas native who shot 4 for 9 from the floor. “We’re all ready to take that role. We’re all ready to step up.”

“I was relaxed out there,” added Castro, a shooting guard. “I finally got to get into my little zone. I’m a scorer. I just had to make it happen.”

Kevin Kotzur (So., San Antonio) led the Rattlers with 14 points and eight rebounds, while Josh Orta (So., San Antonio) added 13. Jeremy Fonteneaux (Jr., DeSoto, Texas) and Ray Marshall (Jr., El Paso, Texas) scored 12 apiece.

The Rattlers dominated most statistical categories, including owning a 50-22 rebounding advantage thanks to the big bodies of Kotzur, Fonteneaux and Marshall.

Orta, whose wife, Valerie, is expecting their second child any day, added five assists and five boards.

The game was tight in the first half, with St. Mary’s owning a mere 34-30 advantage at the break. Roberts, a San Antonio native who graduated from Wagner High School, played a big role in keeping the Rattlers afloat early, scoring all seven of his points in the opening frame.

But St. Mary’s broke free in the second half, going on a 12-2 run midway through the half to open up a 61-43 lead.

Newman dropped to 0-2 in conference play with the defeat.

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