LAS VEGAS – When Johnny Hutton stuffed a shot underneath the basket midway through the second half Sunday night, it punctuated a change in the Rattlers’ intensity against Christian Brothers.
But when the first of three technical foul calls started to trickle in over the ensuing minutes, momentum quickly swung the other way on the final night of the South Point Holiday Hoops Classic.
The final of three technical fouls called over a six-minute stretch, Brad Hubenak was ejected with 4:15 left, highlighting a stretch that led to a 79-72 defeat at The Orleans Arena.
Disappointed with a call that resulted in his first-ever ejection, Hubenak (Jr., Kennedale, Texas) said the Rattlers have to play smarter.
Daryell Taylor (Jr., Houston) led the Rattlers in scoring with 15 points on the night, while Kevin Kotzur (Jr., La Vernia, Texas) posted a double-double with 13 points and 10 boards. Moses Sundufu (Jr., Hopkins, Minn.) added 13 points.
“We were just battling and the guy flopped and got the call,” said Hubenak, who was called for throwing an elbow. “But it was a smart play on his part.
“We were the more physical team. They were the smarter team. That’s all I have to say about that.”
After trailing 31-26 at the break, the Rattlers (4-4) battled back to tie the game at 37-37 with 15 minutes left.
St. Mary’s fell back down by seven over the ensuing minutes, but the tide began to change as the Rattlers picked up their defensive intensity – as highlighted by Hutton’s block with the game tied at 49-49 with 10 minutes left.
But things unraveled from there.
“You look at the good things and the bad things, and move on,” Hubenak said. “But as a team, we have to get better on both ends. We have three or four sequences where we play good defense, and then we just drop the ball. We have to be able to have two good halves of defense.”
Turning their immediate attention to the Christmas break, the Rattlers won’t be back in action until Dec. 29, when they travel across town to play longtime rival Incarnate Word at the McDermott Center.