WICHITA, Kan. – St. Mary’s looked like it was pulling away. But then the No. 19-ranked Newman Jets came flying back.
Up 10 points with 3:37 remaining, the Rattlers’ men’s basketball team watched Newman score 13 straight to stun St. Mary’s with a 63-60 win at the Fugate Gymnasium.
St. Mary’s 57-47 lead was negated by Newman’s 13-0 run, which put the Jets (13-1, 4-0 in Heartland Conference) up 60-57 with eight seconds left. The teams exchanged three foul shots apiece and St. Mary’s Daryell Taylor (Sr., Houston) missed at the buzzer as the Rattlers (10-3, 3-2) fell by three.
Kevin Kotzur (Sr., La Vernia, Texas) led all scorers and rebounders with 23 points and 16 boards, while Taylor added 11 points and point guard Christian Bower (Jr., Chandler, Ariz.) chipped in 10.
There was plenty to like about the Rattlers’ performance in a game they led 30-23 at the break, as they outrebounded Newman 46-27 and outshot them as well, hitting at a 50-percent clip to the Jets’ 32.8-percent mark.
But the Rattlers turned the ball over 25 times – including three times in the final three minutes – and Newman converted 18 of 22 free throws compared to St. Mary’s 6-for-14 ratio to fuel the feverish comeback.
St. Mary’s led for all but three minutes in the game – the first 1:53, trailing 3-2 – and the final 1:09 following a Shamar Acuay free throw that put Newman up 58-57 at the 1:09 mark. St. Mary’s was going for its second win over a ranked opponent, having defeated then-No. 14-ranked Drury at the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic. Instead, the loss marks the second time the Rattlers have fallen to a ranked team, as they also lost to Washburn, ranked No. 2 at the time, in November.
The Rattlers will host St. Edward’s in a “Battle of the Saints” contest at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Bill Greehey Arena.