Gators top win total from last season

Published: Thursday, January 3, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 3, 2008 at 12:29 a.m.

Florida is done thinking or talking about last season's 9-22 disaster. The Gators made that clear following their 71-51 win over Florida A&M Wednesday evening in the O'Connell Center.

The win was the 10th of the season for Florida (10-4), surpassing last year's win total.

It was a positive step for a program looking to rebuild under first-year coach Amanda Butler. Nonetheless, the Gators are only looking forward, not backward.

"We just focus on this year," said senior Depree Bowden, who led all scorers with a season-high 24 points. "I'm not really worried about last season."

That sentiment was shared by Butler, who picked up her 50th career coaching victory.

"All we're concerned about is where we're heading this season," Butler said. "How we stack up to last season is irrelevant. All we care about is getting win No. 11."

The wins are certainly coming in bunches for Florida. The Gators have now won six straight games, their longest streak since winning 11 straight in the 2005-06 season.

One of the reasons for the Gators' recent success has been rebounding. Florida outrebounded the Rattlers 55-34, it's largest rebounding margin since Dec. 14, 2003 against Cal Santa-Barbara.

It also marked the third straight game in which Florida has posted a double-figure rebounding margin. Florida has now outrebounded 12 of 14 opponents this season after doing so just 10 times last season.

"I'm very pleased with our rebounding," Butler said. "It's obviously an indication you're the more aggressive team. When you clean the glass like that and control the paint like that, it allows us to be a lot more aggressive on the perimeter."

The Gators were aided in the paint by junior center Aneika Henry, who pulled down a career-high 15 rebounds to go along with a career-high six blocks. Sharielle Smith added 14 points and seven rebounds off the bench while Brittaney Thomas contributed 10 points.

The Gators' were forced to overcome some adversity Wednesday when leading scorer and rebounder Marshae Dotson was knocked out of the game for close to 10 minutes of the first half after taking a finger in the eye. Dotson returned but was held to just three points and three rebounds in 18 minutes.

Florida sophomore guard Lonnika Thompson was also knocked out of the game in the second half when she was injured in a collision while going for a loose ball. Thompson didn't return, but she is expected to be fine, Butler said.

The Rattlers, who were off to their best start since the 1981-82 season, fell to 9-2. Forward Stephanie Foster led the Rattlers with 16 points.

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