Gators drop SEC opener to Bulldogs

Published: Friday, January 5, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 5, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

ATHENS, Ga. — Florida's struggles continued on the road, as the Gators couldn't recover from a large halftime deficit to the No. 15 Georgia Bulldogs and dropped their SEC opener 89-57 on Thursday.

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The Associated Press

The Bulldogs (13-2 overall, 1-0 SEC) opened with a 15-4 run in the first half that was led by Cori Chambers, who scored 10 points during the spurt. Chambers made two jumpers and a couple of 3-pointers to give Georgia a 28-12 lead with 9:07 left in the half. Chambers finished with 23 points.

Florida (6-10, 0-1) responded with a 6-0 run, but Georgia countered with one of its own. The Bulldogs took a 52-23 lead when Janese Hardrick scored on a layup, Ashley Houts hit a 3-pointer and Hardrick made a 3 with 11 seconds left before halftime.

Georgia connected on 9-of-18 shots from beyond the arc in the first half. The Bulldogs took advantage of Florida's zone defense, leaving Georgia shooters with open shots.

"Cori Chambers was just on fire," Gators coach Carolyn Peck said. "With the young players we have, we had breakdowns — and we can't do that."

Georgia's leading scorer, Tasha Humphrey, ran into foul trouble and scored eight points in 16 minutes. Coach Andy Landers said he was disappointed with how Gator defenders played Humphrey, but knew all the attention on her led to open shots for Chambers and Hardrick.

"I felt bad for her down there," he said. "She wasn't able to get her points like usual, but we came together and showed how versatile we are as a team."

Georgia pulled away in the second half, with its largest lead at 33 on a couple of 3-pointers by Hardrick.

Sha Brooks, Florida's top scorer at 15.3 points a game, finished with 10 points. Marshae Dotson led the Gators with a career-high 22 points and nine rebounds.

The Bulldogs' quickness on defense forced 22 turnovers, including 10 by Brooks and Dotson. Angel Robinson scored 10 points off the bench and Houts had seven assists.

"We had those guards under control throughout the game," Landers said. "I am pleased with everything except for a stretch in the second half. We got good shots but missed them."

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