San Antonio – Christian Bower dazzled with fancy moves to the basket, Moses Sundufu could hardly miss from outside and Kevin Kotzur did – well, what Kevin Kotzur does.
The red-hot St. Mary’s men’s basketball team continued to roll Thursday night, pulling away from Texas-Permian Basin down the stretch in a 72-63 win at Bill Greehey Arena.
Kotzur (Sr., La Vernia, Texas) led the way with 19 points and a career-high 19 rebounds to go along with three blocked shots, which moved the big man into a tie with Billy White for most blocked shots in a Rattler career (89).
“Great win,” Kotzur said. “They are always gunning. They’ve beaten us here the last two times. We had to go to work and we dug down. We fought through some adversity and came back and won the game.”
Kotzur’s presence in the paint dictated the outcome of the tight game, as the Rattlers used their 18-rebound advantage (48-30) to put up 18 more shots than the Falcons, who dropped to 2-6 overall and 0-2 in Heartland Conference play.
St. Mary’s, meanwhile, improved to a league-leading 2-0 mark and 9-1 overall.
The Rattlers faced going into the half tied at 25-25 until Mark Simmons (Tucson, Ariz.) used a head fake to draw an ill-advised foul on a 3-point shot with 1.1 seconds remaining. Simmons drained all three free throws, giving the Rattlers some breathing room with a 28-25 halftime edge.
St. Mary’s briefly trailed by as many as two points late in the second half, but began to pull away with about four minutes remaining.
Sundufu (Sr., Hopkins, Minn.) scored on a layup to give StMU a 59-54 lead, and answered a Falcons basket on the next possession with a 3-pointer – one of three he made on the night – to put the Rattlers up 62-57.
Back-to-back buckets from Bower (Jr., Chandler, Ariz.) put the Rattlers up nine in the closing minutes to seal the win. Bower finished with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting, while Sundufu netted 16 on 3-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc.
Daryell Taylor (Sr., Houston) and Fred Wilson (Jr., Seattle) chipped in eight points apiece.
St. Mary’s will return to action Saturday against Oklahoma Panhandle State at 4 p.m. at Bill Greehey Arena.