Gators squander double-digit lead

Published: Friday, January 27, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 27, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
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Arkansas' Kristin Moore blocks the shot of Florida's Sarah Lowe during the first half of the No. 24 Gators' 69-63 loss in Fayetteville, Ark., on Thursday.Box score, 2C

The Associated Press


SEC scoreboard

  • Kentucky 66,
    No. 1 Tennessee 63
  • No. 15 Georgia 74,
    South Carolina 65
  • No. 4 LSU 75,
    No. 22 Vanderbilt 53
  • Ole Miss 76,
    Mississippi State 71
  • Auburn 65, Alabama 56

  • FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - No. 24 Florida let a 10-point lead midway through the second half disappear, as sharp shooting Arkansas nailed 11 three-pointers en route to a 69-63 upset Thursday night at Bud Walton Arena.
    The Razorbacks (13-6, 5-1 Southeastern Conference), who have hit 47 three-pointers in the last four games, also overcame a 14-point deficit in the first half and carried that momentum into the second half where they shot 46.7 percent from the floor and canned 6-of-10 three-pointers.
    "For the first 17 minutes we played some pretty good basketball, but with three minutes left, Arkansas picked up its defensive intensity, we rocked back on our heels and the momentum swung their way," UF coach Carolyn Peck said. "I thought we got some of that momentum back early in the second half, but down the stretch, we lost our focus. Our rotations just weren't there defensively and Kristin Moore came out and hit a big shot. Leslie Howard hit some big shots. It was a breakdown in concentration on our part and in this game, the team that concentrates the longest is going to win. That's what Arkansas did today."
    Dalila Eshe's 17 points led the Gators (15-4, 3-3), who also got double-figure scoring from Danielle Santos (11) and Brittany Davis (10). Florida shot 45.1 percent (23-51) from the floor, but Arkansas, which shot 39.3 percent, managed 10 more shots and capitalized from long range.
    UA's Leslie Howard scored a game-high 24 points, hitting 6-of-10 three-pointers, while Brittney Vaughn tallied 10 points with six assists.
    "Brittney Vaughn turned up her penetration during their run and we got anxious," Peck said.
    Arkansas scored the first five points of the second half to take its first lead of the game, 32-30, but Dalila Eshe came right back with a three-pointer from the top of the arc to spark a 17-5 run, as the Gators regained the lead and took a 47-37 advantage with 13:16 remaining.
    Similar to the first half, just as the Gators seemed to pull away, turnovers plagued their game and Arkansas took advantage with a 15-4 spree to retake the lead, 52-51, with just less than seven minutes left.
    Santos hit an eight-foot jumper to give the Gators the lead, but Howard nailed UA's ninth trey of the game as the Razorbacks took their largest lead of the game, 55-53. Marshae Dotson's offensive tip-in tied the game, but UA responded as the teams continued to trade two points with the home team taking the lead and forcing the Gators to match.
    Howard then nailed a trey from the left baseline to give UA a 59-56 lead with 1:56 remaining. Santos hit a jumper with get the Gators within one, 62-61, with 1:39 on the clock. But Howard struck again and canned her sixth three-pointer to extend UA's lead to 65-61 with 44 seconds remaining.
    Sha Brooks hit two free throws, but Howard did, too to keep the difference four points. Brooks then missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and Arkansas collected the miss and the Gators were forced to foul.
    The Gators, who entered halftime with the lead for the first time in their last eight games, shot 47.8 percent (11-23) in the opening frame, while the 'Backs rallied at the end to hit 32.3 percent (10-31) after shooting around 20 percent for the majority of the first half. UF did hold a 20-13 rebounding edge, but six of UA's boards were offensive.
    Florida returns to action at 3 p.m. Sunday, when the team plays host to No. 15 Georgia.
    Florida roared out of the gate, opening the game with a quick 8-0 run behind inside buckets and a pair of free throws from Davis and Brooks. Arkansas zipped right back to tie the game at 12-all with 15:35 on the clock, as its first four field goals were three-pointers, two each from Rochelle Vaughn and Howard.
    The Gators continued to work the ball inside against the smaller 'Backs, with Eshe hitting a layup and Sarah Lowe and Santos each making their way to the free throw stripe before Eshe connected on another short jumper to build a seven-point advantage, 19-12, with 13:23 remaining in the period.
    Dotson ended a five-minute scoring drought in the game by sinking an athletic jumper in the lane to extend UF's lead to nine, 21-12, with just over eight minutes remaining. Dotson then hit a pair of free throws to give the Gators an 11-point advantage. Melissa Hobbs ended the eight-minute drought for Arkansas by canning a 15-footer, but Florida marched right back with Eshe hitting a finesse move inside and Santos working an inside-outside game with Davis to perfection by canning a three-pointer, as the Gator lead swelled to 14, 28-14.
    The teams then traded buckets, with the Gators' coming from Davis with 4:42 on the clock to keep the lead at 14 points, but those would be UF's last points of the half, as Arkansas refused to fold, and turned up its defense, forcing six Gator turnovers and sinking some second chance points to stage an 11-0 run with scoring from five different players in the final 3:03 of the half to cut UF's deficit to three points, 30-27, entering the locker room.

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