San Antonio – Two days before Rattler great Tyrell Whisenton was set to be inducted into the St. Mary’s Athletics Hall of Fame, the modern-day squad threw a fitting tribute to the men’s basketball icon Thursday night.
Whisenton (CL ’98), the Rattlers’ all-time King of 3’s, surely would be proud of the shooting display the Rattlers put forth in a 75-53 shellacking of Arkansas-Fort Smith, as they hit a season-high 12 3-pointers to run away with the victory at Bill Greehey Arena.
Daryell Taylor (Jr., Houston) led the festivities with five 3-pointers and 17 points, while Moses Sundufu (Jr., Hopkins, Minn.) – Taylor’s former running mate at San Jacinto – scored 12 on 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc. Point guard Lamb Autrey (Sr., Cibolo, Texas) also added 12 points, hitting a pair of triples of his own.
Put it all together and it was the Rattlers’ most prolific shooting display from long range since also netting 12 3’s against Texas A&M International on Jan. 28, 2004.
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“I spent last night in the gym, getting shots up, getting a feel for the rim,” said Taylor, who is averaging 11.3 points. “I was getting my hands ready, my feet set. All I had to do was knock it down and concentrate.”
Still, Taylor said it took a team effort for the Rattlers (11-5, 6-1 in Heartland Conference) to dominate UA Fort Smith the way they did.
Capitalizing on the Lions’ zone defense, St. Mary’s jumped to a 36-27 halftime lead. The advantage swelled to 28 in the second half, as the Rattlers cruised down the stretch en route to shooting 12 of 23 from downtown.
Kevin Kotzur (Jr., La Vernia, Texas) recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, while D.J. Castro (Jr., El Paso, Texas) scored nine points off the bench.
Most impressive was the Rattlers’ ball movement, which seemingly never failed in finding an open shooter – which more often than not was Taylor or Sundufu from the corners.
“Me and moses, we played ball last year in junior college together,” Taylor said. “We have that chemistry. We’re unselfish with each other. We just want to win. If he’s taking that shot or if I’m taking that shot, we have maximum confidence in whoever’s going to take it.”
Kind of like in Whisenton’s days.
St. Mary’s, which remains in second place in the conference behind Newman (4-0), will return to the court Monday in a non-conference tilt against Texas A&M-Kingsville. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.