San Antonio – In the coming hours or days, whenever the time is right, St. Mary’s women’s basketball coach Jason Martens will address with his players the personal significance of Friday night’s thrilling, 65-62 victory over Central Oklahoma.
See, as Morgan Pullins raced with the ball across the court with a chance to score the go-ahead bucket in the waning seconds, the freshman forward from Franklin, Mich., thought she was carrying just the weight of this particular game on her shoulders.
She didn’t know Martens’ pursuit of St. Mary’s immortality was also at stake.
That’s because never in Martens’ six years of guiding the program has he made it about him. Even after becoming the program’s all-time wins leader with his 102nd career victory Friday – made possible by Pullins’ steal and subsequent breakaway layup to put the Lady Rattlers up 63-62 with 25 seconds left – Martens insisted the evening’s storyline belonged to his players.
“I wasn’t concerned about win No. 102. I was concerned about No. 4,” he said, referring to the fourth victory the Rattlers picked up this season.
That win certainly came, and impressively so. St. Mary’s (4-10) jumped to a 10-point lead in the second half, but 26 Lady Rattler turnovers opened the door for Central Oklahoma (9-5) to claw back into the picture.
After trailing the entire half, UCO pulled ahead, 60-59, on a jumper with 1:46 left.
The Rattlers, up 28-27 at the break, could have felt defeated. Instead, they fought back.
Pullins connected on back-to-back baskets for four of her team-high 13 points to turn a 62-59 deficit to a 63-62 lead, and DeAnna Patterson (Sr., Converse, Texas) drained a pair of free throws with eight seconds left to push the Lady Rattlers’ cushion to three points.
St. Mary’s defense, tough all night, forced UCO into throwing up an errant 3-pointer as time expired.
“It feels good to help him get that moment,” said Pullins when alerted of Martens’ milestone, “especially so early in my career.”
Patterson scored 12 points for St. Mary’s, while Kathryn Galindo (So., San Antonio) added 10 off the bench.
It all added up for a special night for Martens, who improved to 102-57 at St. Mary’s in surpassing Tom Weeaks’ school record of 101 wins.
“The 102, you can’t do it without great players,” said Martens, who has won three Heartland Conference titles and made three regional-tournament berths at St. Mary’s. “We’ve had a lot of great players, players here tonight watching us. It’s important to have them here watching us, supporting us. You can’t do it without the players. I’ve just got to thank them for all the wins.”