San Antonio – It’s now crunch time for the Rattlers’ men’s basketball team.
St. Mary’s fell 83-74 to Dallas Baptist at Bill Greehey Arena on Thursday, dropping the Rattlers out of the driver’s seat for a spot in the Heartland Conference tournament.
Kevin Kotzur (So., La Vernia, Texas) scored 25 and D.J. Castro (So., El Paso, Texas) added 18, but it wasn’t enough to offset the 34 scored by Dallas Baptist’s Nick Fox in a defeat that gave St. Mary’s its fifth conference loss.
The Rattlers (13-11, 6-5) don’t necessarily control their own destiny any longer, but are certainly more than alive with just one game remaining that counts toward the league standings.
Though St. Mary’s is in fifth place in the loss column, most of the teams above them in the standings still have two or three games left to play.
The Rattlers host Arkansas-Fort Smith at 4:30 p.m. Saturday in a game that doesn’t count toward the conference standings due to the Lions’ provisional status.
Texas A&M International, St. Mary’s final opponent of the year on Feb. 26, paces the conference with a 7-3 mark, while Newman is 6-4, and Dallas Baptist and Texas-Permian Basin are each 5-4.
Only the top four teams will qualify for the Heartland Conference Tournament.
RE-WATCH THE SECOND HALF
Down 10 points with less than a minute left Thursday, the Rattlers reeled off three straight 3-pointers, including two from Castro, to cut into the deficit. But with the Patriots making all of their free throws on the other end, the closest St. Mary’s got was 79-74 with 25 seconds left.
Earlier on, with neither team able to wrestle away control of the game, Castro at least ensured that remained the case for Dallas Baptist a while longer. He drained a 3-pointer from the left corner with about eight minutes, knotting things back up at 57-57.
Moments later, Dallas Baptist’s Braxton Adamson used a screen to come free for a jumper at the elbow to open up a 61-57 lead with about six minutes remaining.
Adamson struck again with 5:30 left, hitting from 3-point range to push the Rattlers’ deficit to 64-59.
Then, with 4:53 showing, Ray Marshall (Jr., El Paso, Texas) hauled in a rebound off Castro’s missed free throw, and proceeded to go 1 for 2 at the line after getting fouled on the rebound.
Down 64-60, Marshall came up with a steal, but the Rattlers couldn’t cash in on the other end, and the deficit quickly swelled to six.
But the Rattlers wouldn’t quit, with Kotzur working his way inside for an and-one opportunity with 3:38 left. Kotzur made the free throw, slicing the deficit to three at 66-63.
With the Rattlers over the limit on fouls, Dallas Baptist’s Fox went to the line and made to foul shots, pushing the Patriots’ lead back to five with three minutes left.
Dallas Baptist went 1 for 3 at the line with 1:45 left, but the Rattlers missed on the other end, keeping the score at 71-65 with less than 1:30 left. Two more free throws made it 73:65 as the final minute neared.
St. Mary’s led 33-29 at the half.
NOTEBOOK: Eight St. Mary’s student-athletes were honored during a halftime ceremony for their academic successes. Current softball players Heather Haas (So., Shiner, Texas), Crystal Keller (So., San Antonio) and Kelly Baker (Sr., San Antonio) joined former softball player Christina Rodriguez (So., San Antonio) and assistant softball coach Arlynda Flores for being recognized for being named Academic All-Americans following the spring 2010 semester. Men’s golfers Matt Vela (Sr., San Antonio) and Jeff Rein (Sr., San Antonio) were also recognized for being named Academic All-America, with Vela also honored for making second team All-America for his performance on the course. Graduated softball player Heather Monroe was honored but could not attend.