Gators' comeback falls short

Published: Friday, January 19, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 19, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

Southeastern Conference woes continued for the Florida women's basketball team Thursday night at the O'Connell Center.

Despite a career-high 26 points and eight rebounds from Marshae Dotson, Florida lost 74-69 to Auburn (15-5, 2-2).

Perseverance was the reoccurring theme for a Gators team hungry to get its first SEC win of the season, but every time Florida got close to taking a lead the Tigers answered back.

After the Gators ( 6-13, 0-4) cut the deficit to two points, Auburn's DeWanna Bonner scored four straight points, including a 14-foot jumper, to put her team up six with one minute remaining.

As Bonner back-pedaled to the other end of the floor, she hit her chest thinking the game was out of reach.

But the Gators had one more run up their sleeve.

Down 71-63 with only 50 seconds remaining, Sha Brooks knocked in two of her 24 points with a layup, and Bonner threw the ball away trying to avoid the intentional foul. Then Dotson came back with a baby hook to put her team within four and force another Auburn timeout.

"Our poise was not good," Auburn coach Nell Fortner said. "We were panicking with the pressure and it didn't look like we knew what we were doing."

The timeout didn't help.

Auburn's Whitney Boddie had the ball stripped, as Sharielle Smith picked up the loose ball and sank a lay up to put the Gators within two.

Then with 24 seconds left, Florida sent Boddie to the line where she would hit one of two free throws, making it a one possession game.

After a quick timeout to diagram a play, Kim Dye caught a pass three feet behind the arc with nine seconds remaining and missed the game-tying three.

"We were looking for Dye to come up with a three on that play," Florida coach Carolyn Peck said. "I think she had a good look and she squared up nicely; it just didn't go down."

The missed three-point shot capped a game in which the Gators came back from an opening 14-0 Auburn run and finished the first half only down by two.

It was the Gators' sixth straight loss against an SEC foe.

"I think we're fighting real hard," said Brooks, who was on the bench for the final shot after fouling out. "Sometimes we sort of slack off and don't communicate as well and when it's time to pick it up, it's kind of too late.

"We just need to put together a full 40 minutes."

Bonner and Boddie led Auburn with 21 points each. The Tigers outshot the Gators 22-9 from the free-throw line.

Fortner was just happy to get out of Gainesville with a win.

"It got a little scary at the end so I'm just satisfied to be walking out of here with this victory," she said. "Getting a win on the road in this league is always a nice thing."

The Gators never held a lead and despite coming back several times they showed their immaturity by not being able to close it out.

Peck, however, doesn't want to hear it.

"I'm not going to use youth as an excuse anymore," she said. "It's January now and it's time to play like grown-ups."

The Gators host another SEC foe Sunday when they face Arkansas (16-3, 1-2) at 3 p.m.


· No. 1 Duke 65, N.C. State 51: Freshman Brittany Mitch scored eight of her 10 points during a decisive spurt that helped No. 1 Duke (19-0, 5-0 ACC) dodge a letdown and beat North Carolina State (13-6, 2-2).

· No. 2 North Carolina 78, Georgia Tech 31: Reserve Alex Miller scored 15 points, Ivory Latta added 14 and North Carolina (21-0, 5-0 ACC) held Georgia Tech to its lowest score ever.

· No. 4 Tennessee 73, Mississippi State 44: Sidney Spencer scored 18 points, Shannon Bobbitt added 13 and Tennessee (17-1, 4-0 SEC) got a glimpse of life without Candace Parker in a victory over Mississippi State (10-8, 1-3).

· No. 8 LSU 76, Kentucky 58: Sylvia Fowles scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, and LSU (17-2, 3-1 SEC) beat Kentucky (13-6, 2-2).

· No. 16 Georgia 83, No. 14 Vanderbilt 71: Ashley Houts scored a career-high 21 points and Georgia (15-4, 3-2 SEC) broke open a close game with a 10-0 second-half run to beat Vanderbilt (16-3, 3-2).

· No. 24 Mississippi 76, South Carolina 57: Ashley Awkward scored 22 points and hit four 3-pointers, and Mississippi (16-4, 5-0 SEC) used a big early run to beat South Carolina (11-8, 1-3).

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