Freedom New Mexico
SAN ANTONIO — Senior forward Ashton Benford scored 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, and St. Mary’s recovered from a slow start to beat Eastern New Mexico University 65-52 Tuesday night in The Rattlers’ New Year’s Classic.
Benford shot 10-for-17 from the field, and the Rattlers (11-1) also got 12 points and nine rebounds from senior forward Farren Fox in winning their ninth game in a row.
The game seesawed well into the second half. The Zias took a 49-48 lead on a three-point play by sophomore Til-Lois Fifer with 6:36 left, but St. Mary’s held them to one field goal the rest of the way and finished the game on a 17-3 run.
Sophomore forward Cat Clay poured in 18 points for the Zias (7-6), including two 3-pointers to help stake ENMU to an 8-0 lead in just over two minutes. The Zias held the lead most of the entire first half, but the Rattlers pulled even 28-28 at the break.
St. Mary’s opened a six-point lead early in the second half, but a 3-pointer by Til-Lois Fifer and a jumper by Clay gave ENMU a 41-40 lead midway through the second half.
The Rattlers responded with an 8-0 run, but the Zias countered with eight in a row, taking a 49-48 lead on Fifer’s three-point play with 6:36 left.
Guard Rachel Jones added 10 points for St. Mary’s, while Fifer finished with 12 points and eight rebounds for ENMU.
In the first game, Ouachita Baptist defeated Texas A&M-Kingsville 98-85. ENMU takes on Texas A&M-International (3-8) at 1 p.m. today (MST) followed by St. Mary’s against Ouachita Baptist (7-2) to wrap up the event.