San Antonio – Bria Bell was still catching her breath in the moments after St. Mary’s victory Saturday afternoon, and understandably so.
The Lady Rattlers came to Bill Greehey Arena to play a basketball game, but fully knew what the affair with Oklahoma Panhandle State was likely to become.
A track meet.
The Lady Aggies brought with them a full-court press, routinely subbed in five new players at every opportunity and shot up 3-pointer after 3-pointer. And St. Mary’s dodged it all, running away with a 100-72 victory.
Most importantly, the Lady Rattlers clinched their berth in the Heartland Conference Tournament, and kept alive their hopes to host the event altogether, as St. Mary’s (12-14, 7-3) remains tied for third place but just a game out of first in the league.
“It was intense from the start,” said Bell, who scored 18 points and hauled in 10 rebounds in a career performance. “They have a crazy style of basketball.”
The Aggies'(4-19, 1-8) wild style resulted in 32 Rattler turnovers – but had hardly any other adverse affect. St. Mary’s got off 75 shots, hauled in 61 rebounds and topped the century mark for the second time this season (the first coming in a 101-point showing at Oklahoma Panhandle State earlier this season). Panhandle State attempted 46 3’s, but made only 10, while St. Mary’s shot 50.7 percent from the floor as a whole.
“Coach wanted us to be really focused, have our mentality going and just get out with the win,” Bell said. “They’re down and back nonstop. It’s like the Energizer Bunny. Coach was worried about us being in shape, but we pulled off the win.”
Felicia Jacobs (Jr., San Antonio) scored 15, Morgan Pullins (Fr., Franklin, Mich.) scored 12 and Chesney Neely (Fr., Goldthwaite, Texas) added 11 as the Lady Rattlers rolled. Reserve guard Amber Polvado (So., Weslaco, Texas) also enjoyed a career performance with nine points off the bench in a spirited showing.
St. Mary’s held a 50-30 lead at the half before tacking on 50 more points in the second frame.
The Lady Rattlers will return to action next Saturday, when they travel to Arkansas-Fort Smith to play for a 12 p.m. tip.