EDMOND, Okla. – Stuck in a rut, the Rattlers now find themselves searching to regain the form that made them one of the top teams to beat just one month ago.
Hoping to snap their three-game losing steak on the road, the Rattlers (12-5, 4-3 in conference) fell just short against Oklahoma Christian University Saturday, losing by five in their fourth road loss on the season, 73-68.
Moses Sundufu (Sr., Hopkins, Minn.) knocked down shot after shot against the Eagles (12-6), hitting five 3-pointers for a team-high 19 points. Off the bench, Isaiah Matthews (Texas City, Texas) brought in 12 points and Mark Simmons (Jr., Chandler, Ariz.) added another 11.
Star center Kevin Kotzur (Sr., La Vernia, Texas) was held to just seven points, as the big man failed to score in double figures for just the fifth time in his 102-game career.
Dominating with a 10-1 record and sitting atop the Heartland Conference less than a month ago, the Rattlers now sit tied for third place in the league standings. Although Saturday’s contest against provisional member Oklahoma Christian wouldn’t impact those standings, it was a chance for the Rattlers to regain their form. And for a while, it looked like they had.
St. Mary’s led the contest for the first 11 minutes of the game before the Eagles went on a 14-2 run after tying it 11-11 with 11:03 remaining in the half. The Eagles held a 14-point lead with 12 seconds remaining, before a Sundufu 3-point strike at the buzzer brought the Rattlers within 11 by half, 34-23.
The second half again saw a double-digit lead for the Eagles, but the Rattlers were able to bring it to within five with 4:35 remaining at 60-55. Another Sundufu bucket from behind the arc cut the deficit to 69-65 with 27 seconds remaining, but four straight free throws from the Eagles closed it out. The Rattlers were able to outscore the Eagles in the second half by six, 45-39.
St. Mary’s starts the second round of conference play Thursday against the University of Texas-Permian Basin in Odessa, Texas. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m.