San Antonio – Arguably, they were one of the few teams that could have shaken the Lady Rattlers.
Long-time rival St. Edward’s University entered Bill Greehey Arena Thursday night boasting a 2-0 Heartland Conference record and left with its first tally in the loss column.
The Rattlers have officially, if they weren’t already, become the team to beat in league play as they picked up their sixth straight conference victory to remain the only undefeated team in the league.
Caught in a close game early, St. Mary’s (13-3, 6-0 in conference) surged past the Hilltoppers (9-6, 2-1 in conference) in the second half to win it by 12, 63-51, as they were sparked by Lia Kioa (Jr., Phoenix) and Morgan Pullins (So., Franklin, Mich.).
Kioa led in scoring for the Rattlers with 16 points, chipping in 10 in the second half alone. Morgan Pullins (So., Franklin, Mich.) picked up a double-double with 14 points, 10 also scored in the second half, to go along with 12 rebounds. Jackie Woods (Jr., San Antonio) added 13 points and Liz Boyd (Sr., San Antonio) tallied a team-high four assists along with 10 points.
With the win, St. Mary’s head coach Jason Martens improved to 15-0 all-time against his chief rival.
Leading by five at the half, 30-25, the Rattlers continued to rely on their four starting guards, Kioa, Boyd, Felicia Jacobs (Sr., San Antonio) and Woods, throughout the game as each totaled more than 30 minutes of play in the 40-minute contest.
The Rattlers topped 50 percent for every shooting category in the second half, and outmuscled the Hilltoppers to stifle them in rebounding 38-27, leaving little room for St. Edward’s to claim St. Mary’s first league loss.
As the game pulled away and the target as the league’s best grew larger, the Rattlers ended their first rivalry game of the season with seemingly no pause in one of the program’s better seasons.
St. Mary’s will stay home to play provisional conference member McMurry University Saturday in Bill Greehey Arena at 2 p.m.