San Antonio – The Rattlers ended their “preseason” as well as brought in the new year the way they wanted on the eve of Heartland Conference play with a double-digit victory over Arkansas-Monticello on Saturday.

With the wait for conference play now over, St. Mary’s pulled all its talent out of the bag with 23 points from the bench as nearly every Rattler that stepped on the court scored in a statement-making, 74-59 victory.

One of three players in double digits, Jackie Edwards (So., San Antonio) led the way with 22 points, while senior Amber Sophus (Houston) had a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds. Morgan Pullins (Fr., Franklin, Mich.) added 10 points.

The Lady Rattlers (5-10) stayed on top offensively, gaining a quick lead and maintaining to lead by as much as 16 in the first half. But their lead dwindled to as little as three as Arkansas-Monticello (4-6) stepped up its pressure on defense, causing the Rattlers to commit 22 turnovers for the game – miscues that led to 19 points for Arkansas-Monticello. The Rattlers held their own on the floor however, and continued to find the bucket for the 74-59 victory.

Early foul trouble for the Rattlers’ posts arose quickly, causing starters Morgan Pullins and Bria Bell (So., Mesquite, Texas) to miss much of the first half. But it opened the door for 6-foot-2 Kathryn Galindo (So., San Antonio, Texas) to continue to sharpen her craft after scoring a season-high 10 points on Friday against Central Oklahoma by pulling down seven points and nine boards Saturday.

As head coach Jason Martens seemed to experiment with varying combinations of the entire Rattler bench, the starting lineup consisted of two guards and a transformed forward-guard. Known for her defensive strengths and having the reputation for steals and boards, Sophus came out Friday ready to become an offensive threat as well, achieving her first double-double of the season.

“Coach said, ‘Can you play post? Can you play guard? You know we need you to play both,'” said Sophus, who went 4 of 5 from the floor. “It’s whatever he needs me to be. It’s a good transition, I like it.”

As Sophus has been improving her offensive skills, newcomer Jackie Edwards and Pullins remain the Rattlers’ go-to for points with Edwards scoring a season-high of 22 and Pullins adding 10 despite sitting out much of the first half due to fouls.

The victory on the eve of conference has become the fourth win out of the last five games for the Rattlers. Starting the season on a 1-9 run, the Rattlers have warmed up to its newcomers and worked out the kinks that come with a new cast of players.

“We needed these two wins really bad,” said Sophus. “So I think it’s going to be that boost that we needed to get over that hump and keep winning and as a program get back to where we need to be.”

It’ll be all conference play for the next five games for the Rattlers that will test just how far they’ve come as a team. St. Mary’s first conference game of the season will be against rival St. Edward’s on Thurs., Jan. 5 on the road in Austin, Texas at 7:30 p.m.

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