San Antonio – Despite big efforts from the Lady Rattlers down the stretch, including three players hitting double digits, St. Mary’s slipped against Arkansas-Fort Smith and got knocked down a peg in the Heartland Conference rankings Thursday.
The 66-55 loss to the Lions (10-6, 3-2 in conference) was a hard pill to swallow for St. Mary’s (8-12, 3-2 in conference) after starting undefeated the first three games of conference play to earn the No. 1 ranking.
Reopening the wound of its first conference loss, suffered against Newman last Saturday, the loss bumped the Rattlers into a tie for second with Arkansas-Fort Smith, which momentarily holds the early-season tiebreaker in the standings.
Jackie Edwards (So., San Antonio, Texas) led the Rattlers in scoring with 11 points followed by Liz Boyd (Jr., San Antonio, Texas) and DeAnna Patterson (Sr., Converse, Texas) with 10 apiece. Kathryn Galindo (So., San Antonio, Texas) came off the bench to pull down 10 rebounds and score six points, but it was not enough to overcome Arkansas-Fort Smith.
RE-WATCH THE GAME
“(The Lions) played a different defense than we’re used to,” said Boyd, who went 100 percent (4 for 4) from the free-throw line. “They’re a lot taller than us, more athletic; but all those reall are excuses and it comes down to us executing.”
But the loss wasn’t all on the Rattlers’ shoulders. The height of 6-foot-3 did prove to be an advantage over St. Mary’s, as the Lions’ powerful power forward Coby Hill dominated the paint for 19 points, going nearly perfect from the floor, hitting 9-of-12 shots. The Lions were able to outrebound the Rattlers, 43-34, with the 6-foot-1 Lion Janae’ Henderson pulling down 10.
The Rattlers came out of the jump at the start of the game quick, going on 6-0 run over the Lions. However, the Lions were able to close the gap and take over the lead that the Rattlers wouldn’t be able to regain, ending the half down 33-23.
Coming out of the locker room with a fire still not yet extinguished, St. Mary’s fell just shy of outscoring Arkansas-Fort Smith in the second, 33-32. But ultimately the Lions’ 37 bench points, including Hill’s 19, to the Rattlers’ 15 and an energy that topped the Ratters’ led to St. Mary’s first conference loss at home.
“We’re still 3-2 in conference,” says Boyd, “and we’re hoping to get a lot more wins coming up and get some of that momentum back.”
After facing the No. 1- and- now-No. 2-ranked teams in conference back-to-back, the Rattlers will get a break from league play, taking on non-conference Northeastern State University this Monday in Tahlequah, Okla., at 2 p.m.