San Antonio – It wasn’t easy – nor was it always pretty – but the St. Mary’s men’s basketball team got past Concordia (Texas) on Monday.

With their outside shot having fallen ice cold, the Rattlers turned to their familiar force down in the paint, as center Kevin Kotzur had 26 points and 11 rebounds to fuel a 69-66 win over the Tornados in the Rattlers’ home opener.

A pair of missed free throws in the final seconds left Concordia with a chance to tie it at the end of regulation, but they were unable to get off a shot after inbounding the ball with about three seconds left before 527 fans at Bill Greehey Arena.

Early on, it never looked like it would be that close late. St. Mary’s (2-0) took a 17-point lead with 2:29 left in the first half, but Concordia chipped it down to nine at the break.

With the Rattlers unable to hit from outside, going 0 for 7 less than a week after setting a program-record in single-game 3-point shooting percentage in an 11-for-15 effort against Incarnate Word, St. Mary’s struggled to put away the Tornados. The Rattlers also committed 23 turnovers, adding to their frustration against a Concordia team that forced the issue defensively under coach Stan Bonewitz, the son of St. Mary’s Hall of Fame basketball/baseball player Stan Bonewitz.

Still, coach Jim Zeleznak’s squad found a way to prevail. Kotzur (Sr., La Vernia, Texas) posted his second double-double in as many games and moved five points away from matching Anthony Houston (1,498 points) for the No. 7 spot on St. Mary’s all-time scoring chart. He also shot 10 for 11 from the floor – but he didn’t do it alone. Fred Wilson (Jr., Seattle) hit double figures for the first time as a Rattler with 11 points, while Daryell Taylor (Sr., Houston), the reigning Heartland Conference Player of the Week, added 10. Brad Hubenak (Sr., Kennedale, Texas) also pitched in eight key points off the bench.

St. Mary’s will return to the court later this week, as they host the St. Mary’s Thanksgiving Classic from Friday-Saturday at Bill Greehey Arena.

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