Florida defense faces hard test

Published: Thursday, January 15, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 15, 2004 at 1:04 a.m.

Florida's backcourt has been priding itself on defense in recent days. But their truest test comes tonight.


UF women's gameday

  • WHO: Florida (11-4, 1-1 SEC) at No. 14 LSU (13-2, 1-0).

  • WHEN: Tonight, 8.

  • WHERE: Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

  • ON AIR: Cox Cable Ch. 67 in Gainesville, AM-850.

  • NOTES: LSU has won 12 consecutive games overall and 10 straight at home. ... Florida has lost 10 straight SEC road games dating back to the 2001-02 season. ... The last time an unranked Gators' team defeated a nationally ranked opponent on the road was Jan. 16, 1994, when UF beat No. 10 Alabama 80-75. ... Through two SEC games, Florida's Vanessa Hayden is averaging 22 points, 11.5 rebounds and 6.5 blocks - all league bests. ... LSU and Florida haven't met since the Tigers beat the Gators 94-54 last year in the O'Connell Center. ... LSU leads the all-time series 15-8.

    - Brandon Zimmerman

  • When Florida (11-4, 1-1 SEC) faces No. 14 LSU (13-2, 1-0) at 8 tonight in Baton Rouge, the Gator women will be facing one of the top backcourts in the conference. Led by seniors Temeka Johnson (13.3 points per game) and Doneeka Hodges (15.0 ppg) and sophomore wing Seimone Augustus (16.2 ppg), the Tigers' backcourt is a frightening one for opponents to face.

    "I think they're very quick and very athletic," Florida sophomore point guard Sarah Lowe said. "We're going to have to make good decisions. We have to attack them and not be intimidated."

    But the Tigers' backcourt has an intimidating look. Johnson leads the attack at the point. She is fourth in the nation with a 7.7 assists-per-game average. Johnson needs just seven assists tonight to move into second place on the school's all-time assists chart.

    Hodges, meanwhile, became just the 22nd player in LSU history to go over 1,000 points in a career earlier this season.

    As for Augustus, she was honored Monday by USA Basketball as the Female Athlete of the Year after she was the MVP of the 2003 FIBA World Championship for Young Women. All together, they are an accomplished group. Florida knows that and plans to slow them down.

    "I think we're going to go out and play the defense we can to stop their guards," said guard Danielle Santos, regarded as Florida's top defensive stopper. "We've seen a variety of teams and players, and these are some good guards. We're going to try to stop them."

    Florida is coming off its best defensive game of the season Sunday against Vanderbilt. In the 67-61 win in the O'Connell Center, Florida recorded 18 steals and blocked nine shots. Starting point guard Tishona Gregory led the defensive effort with a career-high seven steals.

    "She was doing a good job of getting between the guard and the basket," Florida coach Carolyn Peck said. "Both Tishona and Sarah Lowe have got to play great defense for us to win."

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

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