Gators get best of 'better' Bulls

Florida recovers from some deep deficits to outpace South Florida with a 13-6 run.

Published: Monday, January 3, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 3, 2005 at 12:46 a.m.


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  • WHERE: At Arkansas.
  • WHEN: Thursday, 8 p.m.

  • South Florida coach Jose Fernandez said his team was the better one. Florida coach Carolyn Peck brushed that notion aside, only to redirect a post-game news conference back to the subject late Sunday afternoon.
    But all that mattered was Florida's ability to prove that it was better than South Florida on the O'Connell Center floor Sunday afternoon. And the Gators did so by coming back from a nine-point second-half deficit to defeat the Bulls 58-50 before 923 fans.
    Florida (9-4) won for the third consecutive game - and for the 14th straight time against South Florida (10-4). The Bulls saw their five-game win streak snapped, and after the game, Fernandez was honest about his feelings.
    "I think we're the better team, I'll go ahead and say it," he said. "We beat ourselves. They didn't beat us."
    When told of the comments, Peck grinned slightly and said, "I think every coach has a high opinion of their team. But you had one winner today and that was the Florida Gators."
    Peck, though, voluntarily returned to the subject several minutes later before ending her post-game news conference.
    "Back to the question about who has the better team," Peck said. "You know, you may have the best players, but it's about who's the best team. These (Florida) players are about team, not individuals."
    The "team" concept has been a reoccurring mantra this season for Florida. This team effort was headed by Bernice Mosby's gritty 13-point, 13-rebound performance, Brittany Davis' leadership in the paint (9 points, 8 rebounds), and senior guard Tamia Williams' scoring (13 points). Meanwhile, reserves Kim Dye (3 points) and Dalila Eshe (9 points, 7 rebounds) also played key roles in the win.
    "In my mind, I never doubted us winning this game," Williams said. "We're a good team, and whenever we're playing together, diving for balls, setting each other up, boxing out, we're hard to beat."
    But the Gators almost beat themselves this time with a sluggish start. Florida scored just six points in the first 12 minutes of the game, a product of a 6-minute and 40-second scoreless stretch.
    "In the first half we looked a little tired," Peck said. "In the second half, this team showed heart, and this team played with a lot of pride."
    South Florida, meanwhile, wasted a pair of chances to bury the Gators. USF went ahead 14-6 early but went through a 5-minute, 22-second scoreless stretch. It happened again in the second half. The Bulls went ahead 35-26 with 16:27 remaining but didn't score for the next 6:10.
    "We could have put this game away twice," Fernandez said. "But we didn't."
    South Florida got a game-high 15 points from guard Anedra Gilmore and 14 from guard Jessica Dickson.
    Florida led by only one with just under three minutes left but closed the game on a 13-6 run, possibly the result of its deep bench.
    The Bulls had three players play 40 minutes and a fourth play 39. Florida, meanwhile, had eight players play double-digit minutes.
    The coaches again differed on what effect that had on Florida pulling away late in the game. Peck said the Gators wore down the Bulls, while Fernandez maintained his team is well conditioned and wasn't fatigued.
    Nonetheless, no one can argue with the final score.
    "It was a team effort," Peck said. "That's how we're going to win and I think we showed that today."
    You can reach Brandon Zimmerman by calling 374-5051 or at zimmerb@gvillesun.com.

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