Losses don't hinder team

Published: Tuesday, January 13, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 12, 2004 at 11:46 p.m.

There has been plenty of evidence to show that Florida's women's basketball team is much improved from last season.

Already, the Gators (11-4, 1-1 SEC) have surpassed last year's win total and are getting consistent, big-time performances from All-American center Vanessa Hayden.

But the most telling sign of Florida's improvement came Sunday when the Gators bounced back from a heart-breaking loss at Ole Miss to defeat a solid Vanderbilt team in the O'Connell Center.

A year ago, the Gators were never able to bounce back from difficult defeats. But in their 67-61 win over the Commodores, who were ranked No. 22 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll, the Gators' determination and hustle proved they are not going to let a tough loss get them down.

"It was about 14 young women on this team who want to accomplish something this year," Florida coach Carolyn Peck said afterward. "They're the ones who did the hard work in practice, and they are the ones who came out and played hard for 40 minutes. They went out and went after a win."

The most promising sign came from sophomore Bernice Mosby, who scored 11 points in 24 minutes after logging only five minutes against the Rebels. Peck said Mosby never got into the flow of the game at Ole Miss, but came back strong Sunday.

"Bernice and I talked about what happened in the Ole Miss game," Peck said. "She was very focused (Sunday) on what she needed to do to win this game."

Florida gets two huge tests this week with road games at LSU and Georgia, which are both ranked in the top 20.

"You cannot get too high on the highs, and you cannot get too low on the lows," Peck said.

  • GYMNASTICS' HOT START: Gymnastics coach Rhonda Faehn said last week her team would be better than a year ago. Just one meet into the season and her promise is holding true.

    Florida's second-place finish at Friday's Super Six Challenge in Tuscaloosa, Ala., provided one rare moment for the Gators. For the first time since 1990, Florida recorded a regular-season win over perennial power Georgia since 1990. The Gators' last win over the Gym Dogs came in the postseason in the 1997 NCAA Southeast Regionals.

    Alabama won the meet with a 196.725, while the Gators turned in a 195.95 - the second-highest opening score ever for UF. Georgia was third at 195.55.

  • VOLLEYBALL HONOREES: There are five jerseys of former Gator volleyball greats now hanging in the team's practice gym in the Lemerand Center.

    Last week, the jerseys of Aury Cruz, Benavia Jenkins, Jenny Manz, Gudi Staub and Aycan Gokberk were hung from the rafters to honor the former Gator standouts.

    Cruz and Jenkins made their mark this past season as seniors. Cruz set the school's all-time kills mark while Jenkins set the same record for blocks.

    Gokberk played from 1992-95 and was the school's former kills leader before Cruz. Manz played at Florida from 1996-99 and is third in career kills behind Gokberk and Cruz.

    Staub played from 1991-92 and is remembered as coach Mary Wise's first big-time player who helped the program rise to national prominence.

  • IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: The top-5 Gator performances from last week.

  • 5. Women's swimming senior Sara McLarty took first place with a time of 4:13.76 in the 400-yard individual medley in Friday's win at No. 16 Arizona St.

  • 4. Women's basketball sophomore Brittany Davis scored a career-high16 points in Thursday's 79-72 loss at Ole Miss.

  • 3. Gymnastics junior Erinn Dooley matched her collegiate-best on the balance beam with a score of 9.925 to share second overall in the event Dooley matched her collegiate-best score to share second overall at Friday's Super Six Challenge in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

  • 2. Women's basketball senior Vanessa Hayden scored 22 points on 8-of-10 shooting and pulled 11 rebounds in Sunday's 67-61 win over Vanderbilt in the O'Connell Center.

  • 1. Gymnastics junior Kristen Stucky led UF with a mark of 9.875 on the uneven bars and won the beam title with a meet-record beammark of 9.95, bettering the previous Super Six record of 9.925 set by Alabama's Jeana Rice at the 2003 meet.

    You can reach Brandon Zimmerman at 374-5051 or at zimmerb@gvillesun.com

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