GOODWELL, Okla. – The Rattlers continue to make a clean sweep across the Heartland Conference, keeping their undefeated status on the road to knock off Oklahoma Panhandle State University on Thursday in a decisive 67-58 victory following three straight by double figures.
St. Mary’s felt the ripple from its past three Heartland Conference games, with two Rattlers hitting season highs in points to lead the Rattlers to their sixth straight win. Senior Ray Marshall (El Paso, Texas) led his team in scoring, going 7 of 8 from the floor for a season high of 17 points, while also leading the Rattlers in assists with four. Popping up from the bench was D.J. Castro (So., El Paso, Texas), scoring a season high of 11 points. Kevin Kotzur (Jr., La Vernia, Texas) and Moses Sundufu (Jr., Hopkins, Minn.) added 10 apiece.
Making a statement with six out of their 10 wins being double-digit triumphs, including three of their Heartland Conference victories, the Rattlers narrowly missed out on pulling another Thursday, 67-58.
But the win didn’t come without a scare.
St. Mary’s (10-4, 4-0 in conference) took to its usual fashion in the first half, leading by as much as 16 halfway through. Panhandle State (2-10, 0-3 in conference) was itching for its first conference win, however, and closed the gap to seven before the half and took its momentum straight into the second.
The Aggies quickly turned the game around and tied the Rattlers, 37-37, five minutes in. But St. Mary’s liked its undefeated reputation and took back control of the game, regaining the lead just as fast as the Aggies tied it and finished on top for its fourth straight conference win, 67-58.
The Rattlers played the Aggies with their five usual starters for almost the entirety of the game to go along with the sixth man, Castro, who scored 11 out of the 17 bench points while rest of the bench mostly sat. The strategy of keeping those six on the court worked for St. Mary’s, as it outscored the Aggies with a 68.4 field-goal percentage to the Aggies’ 43.2 percentage clip. St. Mary’s also outrebounded Panhandle State, 19-14, and limited its turnovers to 12.
Seeing if it can roll in five straight conference wins, St. Mary’s travels to Wichita, Kan., to face Newman University at 12 p.m. Saturday.