LAREDO, Texas – Texas A&M International came in to Saturday with the No. 1 seed already locked up for next week’s Heartland Conference Tournament.
But the St. Mary’s Rattlers cast some doubt as to who is the league’s best team entering the big dance.
Behind Kevin Kotzur’s 28 points and nine rebounds, the Rattlers logged a convincing 72-62 win over the Dustdevils before 450 fans on the road.
St. Mary’s (17-8, 10-4 in Heartland) led 33-26 at the break and never trailed in the second half in its regular-season finale. The Rattlers move on to the tournament, where they will play Newman in the opening round in a battle of No. 2 and 3 seeds. The teams finished the season with matching conference records.
Brad Hubenak (Jr., Kennedale, Texas) had 15 points off the bench by going 9 for 10 from the foul line, while Lamb Autrey (Sr., Cibolo, Texas) added 13 points and five assists. Moses Sunufu (Jr., Hopkins, Minn.) scored 10, while Kotzur scored his 28 by hitting 13 of 15 field-goal attempts.
St. Mary’s had one of its most efficient performances of the season, committing just seven turnovers, hitting 20 foul shots and shooting 53.2 percent from the floor.
The Heartland Tournament will run from next Friday-Saturday in Laredo, Texas, site of the regular-season champion Dustdevils.
NOTEBOOK: Kotzur’s 28 points puts him at 1,395 career points, one point shy of moving into the No. 9 slot on the Rattlers’ all-time scoring list. He also moved into the No. 4 slot on the all-time rebounding list, sliding past former great Billy White with 687 career rebounds. Kotzur is six rebounds away from matching Charles Ford (693) for No. 3 on the charts.