'Dogs bury Gators

Published: Monday, January 13, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 13, 2003 at 12:39 a.m.

While few things went right for the Florida women's basketball team Sunday afternoon, even fewer things went wrong for Georgia.

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Florida's Tishona Gregory gets a shot off as teammate Brittany Davis watches.

DARON DEAN/Special to the Sun

Basically the only miscue the Bulldogs had was Kara Braxton's missed dunk with about four minutes remaining in the game.

Other than that, their 105-62 drubbing against the Gators in front of 2,317 at the O'Connell Center was as dominant as the final score suggests.

"This was a crash course in the SEC," UF coach Carolyn Peck said. "Georgia played one heck of a ball game and you have to credit them with playing with the experience they have with sophomores and juniors. (Christi) Thomas and (Kara) Braxton set a very good example inside of running the floor hard and finishing layups and playing defense aggressively."

The 105 points was the most Florida has given up at home, and the 43-point loss is the biggest defeat in the Georgia series. More importantly, the Gators (8-6) have their first 0-2 start in the SEC since the 1989-90 season.

A big reason for the easy win for Georgia (10-4, 1-0) was its dominating post game.

Led by Braxton and Thomas, the Bulldogs' 64 points in the paint outscored the entire UF team. Braxton and Thomas combined for 41 points on 17-of-22 shooting.

"We walk on the floor every time hoping that (Braxton and Thomas) will (have a strong game). They have that potential," Georgia coach Andy Landers said. "Today, when you look at it before the game starts and you compare starting lineups, we have this height advantage that makes you think that it could be a good day."

Without All-American center Vanessa Hayden's presence, Braxton and Thomas, who stand 6-foot-6 and 6-5, respectively, towered over UF low-post lineup of Dalila Eshe (6-3), Brittany Davis (6-2) and Bernice Mosby (6-1). But Peck refused to use Hayden's absence as an excuse.

"Having Vanessa out there would not have eliminated defensive breakdowns we had on the perimeter cheating out," Peck said. "You've got 6-6 (in Thomas) and 6-5 (in Braxton) and you've got a presence of a Vanessa Hayden, who's 6-5 as well, is it an addition? Yeah. Is it the reason that we lost? No."

Braxton scored 10 of her team's first 15 points and had 18 by the half on 8-of-11 shooting.

"I think we can learn from them and how they move around the basket and how they work for position and finish around the basket like they did," Davis said.

Braxton scored a game-high 22 points and would have had more if she made her one-handed dunk attempt late in the game. She had the breakaway but could not jump high enough to get the ball over the rim.

"It's something I wanted to do," Braxton, who has dunked successfully in practice, said of her attempt. "It was a bad attempt; I got the pass late."

Thomas' shooting was just as effective, as she finished 7-of-8 from the floor.

"We just had some defensive breakdowns - stepping out when we should have been coming in," Peck said. "Those kind of breakdowns, they picked apart."

Many of the breakdowns occurred in the second half. While Georgia had a better shooting percentage in the first half - 62.9 percent vs. 43.8 percent - it attempted 48 shots in the second.

The defensive collapse came on the first play of the second half. Georgia had possession to start the half and lined up most of its players on Florida's half of the court. Alexis Kendrick made a run on to the Georgia half, received the inbounds pass and made an uncontested layup.

That started a 35-8 run for the Bulldogs to open the second half.

"It was just a breakdown defensively on our part," Peck said. "We gambled a little bit because Braxton was on such a roll. But Georgia knocked down key shots out on the perimeter."

GAME NOTES: Reserves Trish Patterson and Tara Taylor both were serving one-game suspensions for conduct detrimental to the team. Neither were in uniform or on the bench for the game.

... Georgia's 51.8 shooting percent ad 43 made field goals is the most by a UF opponent this season.

Doris Yon can be reached at (352) 374-5052 or yond@gvillesun.com.

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