UF women's hoops loses another at home

Published: Friday, February 1, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 1, 2008 at 12:18 a.m.

There are plenty of statistics to explain Florida's 66-56 loss to Vanderbilt Thursday night in the O'Connell Center.

Gators coach Amanda Butler, however, attributed the frustrating defeat to an intangible. Florida simply didn't believe it was capable, she said.

"We have really got to believe we can beat some of these teams at the top of this league," Butler said. "We are talented enough, we are deep enough and we work hard in practice. We've got to simply believe we can beat Vanderbilt, especially when we have them in Gainesville."

The loss was Florida's second straight at home and dropped the Gators to 14-7 overall and 3-3 in the SEC. Vanderbilt got 20 points and 12 rebounds off the bench from two-time reigning SEC Sixth Woman of the Year Liz Sherwood to improve to 15-6 and 4-2.

Marshae Dotson was the only Gator in double figures with 16 points. Sophomore Sharielle Smith added nine while junior Sha Brooks had eight.

The Gators, who trailed by as many as 14 in the first half, battled back to tie the game, 30-30, early in the second half. But the Gators, who only trailed 56-51 with 4:40 left, never was able to hold a lead in the game.

"We had a great start to the second half but there was a moment where we didn't feel like we were supposed to win," Butler said. "Vanderbilt seized that moment. Your mind is a powerful thing and it's going to respond to whatever you tell yourself. I think we doubted ourselves in those crucial moments."

Florida's doubt appeared to carry over to the free throw line. The Gators hit just 14-of-25 free-throw attempts in spite of shooting 70-percent on the year.

"When you miss 11 free throws, it's certainly a factor," Butler said. "Free throws is an area where confident shooters excel."

Smith said she didn't feel like the team was doubting itself.

"I didn't think we were going to lose," Smith said. "I was disappointed we did. Throughout the game, I didn't feel like we were going to."

Vanderbilt's suffocating defense held Florida to just 2-of-18 shooting from behind the 3-point line. One of those was a desperation 3-pointer by Smith at the shot-clock buzzer.

"There are obvious statistical things we didn't do well," Butler said. "But I don't think that's why we didn't give Vanderbilt our best shot today."

Vanderbilt raced out to a 20-6 lead in the first 10 minutes of the game. Florida, though, stormed back, using an 11-0 run to cut the deficit to 30-25 at halftime.

The Gators were able to hold Vanderbilt without a point over the first 4:32 of the second half and tied the game, 30-30 on a Jennifer Mossor free throw with 15:36 left. Still, Florida never was able to take the lead.

Sherwood was a big reason. The bruising, 6-foot-4 center scored 15 of her 20 points in the second half.

"She was a big girl," Dotson said. "She was bigger than most of our post players."

Florida won't have much time to regain its confidence. Eighth-ranked LSU will visit the O'Connell Center Sunday at noon.

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