Williams' 22 helps after a wild ride

The Gators faced down the Tigers in front of a large O'Dome crowd after a long trip home from Arkansas.

Published: Monday, January 10, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 10, 2005 at 5:22 a.m.
Enlarge |

Bernice Mosby scored 17 points with nine rebounds in the win.

Florida could have easily lay down against Auburn on Sunday and justified it with a variety of excuses. They would have included: An all-night travel nightmare home from Arkansas on Thursday night/Friday morning. The loss of starting shooting guard Danielle Santos to a broken foot in December. Or even the sudden injury to reserve guard Kim Dye during Sunday's pre-game shootaround.
But for all the adversity Florida has faced of late, the Gators have pushed it aside and kept rolling. There would be no excuses Sunday afternoon, only celebration.
Senior Tamia Williams scored 10 of her 22 points in the final five minutes to lift Florida (11-4) to a 67-60 win over Auburn before a crowd of 3,842 in the O'Connell Center. The win improved Florida to 2-0 in the SEC for the first time since the 2000-01 season and was the Gators' fifth straight victory overall.
"My team continues to impress me and show me a lot of character," coach Carolyn Peck said.
The Gators also impressed what was the sixth-largest crowd in Florida women's basketball history. Local businesses gave away tickets to Sunday's game, and the fans who filled the seats seemed to fire up Florida late in the second half.
Florida came back from a six-point second-half deficit to take a 52-51 lead on a Williams' layup with 4:07 left. But Auburn forward Louise Emeagi answered with one of her five 3-pointers to put Auburn back up 54-52.
That's when Williams took over. The 6-foot guard from West Palm Beach hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put Florida up 58-54 with 2:45 left, sending the crowd into a frenzy. After Auburn's Natasha Brackett hit a 3-pointer to draw the Tigers within 58-57, Gators senior Tishona Gregory followed with another 3-pointer out of the corner to put the Gators ahead 61-57 with 1:31 left, which ultimately sealed the win.
"The crowd was backing us up, and the energy was flowing through my teammates," Williams said. "It was great. It felt real good."
Williams is now averaging 15.8 points per game since replacing the injured Santos in the lineup six games ago. With Florida now down to nine healthy players, several of its guards were forced to play extended minutes. This all comes on top of Friday morning's travel fiasco.
The Gators were scheduled to fly into Gainesville after their 68-56 win at Arkansas on Thursday night, but fog forced the team to land in Jacksonville and bus home. The Gators arrived in Gainesville shortly before 6 a.m. Friday - nearly seven hours after leaving Fayetteville - and were back on the practice court that afternoon.
"This team is determined to win games," Florida junior Bernice Mosby said. "We have a lot of heart. Because we lost Kim and Danny Santos, it brings us closer as a team. We play each day for them, waiting for them to come back."
Mosby added 17 points and nine rebounds for Florida while center Dalila Eshe chipped in 8 points and 8 rebounds.
Auburn (9-5, 0-1) got 29 points from Emeagi and 12 from forward Natasha Brackett.
The Gators lost Dye to an injured left knee during the pregame shootaround. She sat on Florida's bench with crutches during the game.
Dye is expected to undergo an MRI today or Tuesday, and the team fears her injury may be serious. Dye, a sophomore from Fayetteville, Tenn., is averaging 1.2 points and 7.1 minutes per game this season.
"She's a very important part of this team," Peck said. "After she got injured she said, 'Coach, I might not be able to get out there and take a charge for you.' "
Florida will host No. 1 LSU on Thursday at 7 p.m.
You can reach Brandon Zimmerman by calling 374-5051 or at zimmerb@gvillesun.com.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

Comments are currently unavailable on this article

▲ Return to Top