DALLAS – Quoting his father, St. Mary’s guard Daryell Taylor likes to remind himself, “It’s not how you start, but how you finish.”
Once again, Taylor finished strong for the Rattlers on Thursday.
After being held scoreless in the first half of the Rattlers’ 72-69 victory over Dallas Baptist, Taylor scored all of his 11 points in the second half, none bigger than his go-ahead jumper with 44 seconds left that gave St. Mary’s the lead for good – and kept alive its hopes of hosting the Heartland Conference Tournament.
After leading by as many as seven points in the second half, the Rattlers (16-7, 9-3 in Heartland) fell behind by four with 3:30 remaining. But the Rattlers closed the game on a 9-2 run, with Lamb Autrey (Sr., Cibolo, Texas) converting a pair of free throws with 19 seconds left to push a 70-69 advantage to three.
Ray Marshall (Sr., El Paso, Texas) blocked a shot at the end of regulation to secure the win.
Autrey and Kevin Kotzur (Jr., La Vernia, Texas) led the Rattlers with 15 points apiece, while Moses Sundufu (Jr., Hopkins, Minn.) chipped in 12.
For Taylor, the shot reminded the Rattlers of his fade-away 3-pointer in the waning seconds of overtime that beat Texas A&M-Kingsville earlier this season. It’s enough for Rattler fans to now know Taylor, who goes by “DT” among his teammates, as “D-Terminator.”
St. Mary’s (16-7, 9-3 in Heartland) continues to trail league-leading Texas A&M International, setting up a potentially crucial game in Laredo, Texas next weekend. But first things first, the Rattlers must take care of business against the gritty Arkansas-Fort Smith Lions, whom they’ll face Saturday at 2 p.m. in Fort Smith, Ark. The team that finishes first in conference will host the Heartland Tournament in March.
NOTEBOOK: Following his 15-point showing against Dallas Baptist, Kotzur is now 10 points away from cracking the top 10 on St. Mary’s all-time scoring list. He has 1,358 career points. … Kotzur’s six rebounds moved him into fifth place on the school’s all-time charts with 672. He passed St. Mary’s Hall of Famer Pete Hansen on Thursday. … Thursday’s back-and-forth affair saw 14 ties, including 38-38 at the half, and 11 lead changes.