LSU stops Gators with defense


Published: Friday, January 14, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 14, 2005 at 1:06 a.m.

Somewhere between Seimone Augustus' smooth jump shot and Temeka Johnson's savvy point guard skills, LSU has become one of the nation's top defensive teams. A team known for its offensive playmakers is winning games with defense.

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Florida guard Tamia Williams loses her grip on the ball as it bounces off her knee Thursday.

ROB C. WITZEL/The Gainesville Sun

Florida experienced this painful reality Thursday night in the O'Connell Center when it fell 64-47 to No. 3 LSU before a crowd of 1,863. The Gators (11-5, 2-1 SEC) were held to under 50 points for the first time in two seasons and saw their five-game win streak come to an end. The Tigers also held Florida to 28.6 percent shooting and forced 24 Gators turnovers and had 15 steals.

"LSU might be one of the toughest defensive teams we've come across," Florida coach Carolyn Peck said. "We had 24 turnovers and LSU had a lot to do with that."

Augustus led all scorers with 18 points while Sylvia Fowles, a 6-foot-5 freshmen from Miami, terrorized Florida in the post with 14 points in 18 minutes.

"It was by no means a pretty win," said first-year LSU coach Pokey Chatman, whose Tigers are 15-1 and 2-0 in the SEC. "But it was a win and we'll take it."

The Gators got 15 points from senior Tamia Williams and 12 from senior Tishona Gregory on a night when offense was at a premium. Florida's leading scorer, Bernice Mosby, was held to just four points - 10 below her average - on 2-of-11 shooting.

Florida still has not defeated a top-5 team in the program's 31-year history. The Gators, though, had a decent chance this time against the Tigers. LSU came out admittedly sluggish in the first half, but Florida wasted its chance.

The Gators missed 20 of their first 24 shots and committed nine turnovers in the first 7:34 of the game. The Gators didn't hit double digits until a Briana Phillips lay-up with 4:31 left in the first half cut LSU's lead to 17-11. Phillips shot ended the second of two 5-minute dry spells for Florida in the first half.

Still, LSU led just 25-18 at the half. And the Tigers weren't happy, either.

"I don't think we came out with a lot of energy," Augustus said. "We slacked in the first half and didn't have any intensity."

The Tigers turned it up, but not until after a Florida rally. The Gators appeared on the verge of making it a memorable night in the O'Connell Center when they pulled to 39-33 on a Williams 3-pointer with 9:02 left.

"We made a run of it there," Peck said. "At that point I'm thinking we're ready to cut loose and play our game."

But instead, LSU showed why it is one of the top teams in the country. The Tigers went on a 6-0 run and Florida never got any closer.

The Gators were held to under 50 points for the first time since Feb. 20, 2003, at Kentucky and their 24 turnovers were a season high.

"We've just got to take care of the ball better," Gregory said.

The Tigers were giving up an average of 51 points a game coming in.

"Our goal every night is to come out and get people out of their offense," Augustus said.

On this night, the Tigers did.

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