Gators can't rebound from 'Cats


Florida head coach Urban Meyer communicates in the third quarter of the University of Florida vs University of Georgia game in Jacksonville Saturday, Oct., 29, 2005 at Alltel Stadium.

Michael C. Weimar/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, January 13, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 13, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
Florida had slowly been earning a reputation as a comeback team. The Gators had already come back from second-half deficits to win seven times this season heading into Thursday night's game against Kentucky in the O'Connell Center.
But these resilient Gators seem to have lost their comeback magic.
Kentucky used a dominating rebounding edge and 23 points off the bench from sharp-shooting guard Jenny Pfeiffer to defeat Florida 80-65 in front of a crowd of 1,413.
Florida trailed 35-33 at the break and cut Kentucky's lead to three with 9:40 left, but would never get closer.
"We definitely thought we could come back," said Florida forward Dalila Eshe, who led the team with 23 points. "Rebounding just killed us in the end."
In a big way. The Gators (13-3, 1-2 SEC) were outrebounded 55-39 by the Wildcats. Kentucky forward Jennifer Humphrey grabbed 19 rebounds in just 26 minutes while forward Eleia Roddy added 14 rebounds in 26 minutes off Kentucky's bench.
"When you get outrebounded like that in the SEC, you're not going to win very many games," Florida coach Carolyn Peck said.
Kentucky broke a streak of 12 consecutive SEC road losses and picked up its first win in Gainesville since a 72-58 win Jan. 10, 2000. The Wildcats, off to their best start since the 1990-91 season, improved to 12-3 and 2-1 in the SEC.
The win was also the Wildcats' first against a ranked opponent on the road since 1997. Florida is unranked in the Associated Press top 25 but is No. 24 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.
"This is a really, really big win," Kentucky coach Mickie DeMoss said. "I'm proud of how our kids kept their composure on the road."
Florida was taken out of its game from the beginning as three key players were forced to the bench due to foul trouble. Freshman guard Sha Brooks played just five first-half minutes after picking up two fouls, senior forward Brittany Davis played 12 first-half minutes after picking up two fouls while freshman forward Marshae Dotson picked up three first-half fouls.
"It hurt us a lot," Peck said. "We wanted to stay aggressive but the officials have to make the calls."
The early foul trouble appeared to hurt Brooks more than anyone. Brooks, who entered the game as the Gators' leading scorer, was held scoreless and failed to pick up a rebound, assist or steal in 15 minutes of action.
"You've got to credit Kentucky's defense. They know Sha Brooks is one of our main scorers," Peck said. "For her to sit that much in the first half and then come back in the second half, it was hard for her to get in the flow."
Florida shot just 32.4 percent for the game including a frigid 1-for-13 from 3-point territory. Kentucky, meanwhile, shredded Florida's zone defense.
Pfeiffer found the holes in Florida's zone, hitting 6-of-9 attempts from 3-point territory.
Florida, now, must wait seven days to have a chance at snapping its' two-game losing streak. The Gators won't play again until they travel to Ole Miss Thursday.
Florida had won 11 in a row prior to Sunday's 89-70 loss at Georgia and Thursday's loss to Kentucky. Senior guard Danielle Santos said the Gators are capable of correcting their mistakes.
"I think we will be able to bounce back," said Santos, who had 10 points and nine rebounds. "It's kind of tough losing two in a row, especially in the SEC because it gets tougher. But I think we'll be able to bounce back because we've been in this position before as upperclassmen and we've bounced back from it. I think we'll be alright."

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