Women's hoops wins SEC opener

Published: Thursday, January 8, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 9, 2009 at 4:19 p.m.

Sha Brooks has been a constant on All-SEC teams through her years at Florida. After Thursday”s performance, she may find herself en route to the All-America squad.

The senior Brooks notched a career-high 31 points, adding six rebounds, four steals and six assists for good measure, and the No. 18 UF women’s basketball team won its league opener 80-66 over Mississippi State.

Senior Marshae Dotson contributed 17 points and nine rebounds to the victory.

“You’ve got to step it up (in SEC play),” said Brooks, who hit on a career-best 12-of-21 shots. “It’s a whole other level. You have to bring your A-game every night.”

The teams battled through seven ties and lead changes, heading into the half knotted at 37.

With 6,500 fans in attendance, marking the third largest crowd in program history, the Gators staged a second half as dominating as any performance this season.

Each team turned the ball over 12 times in the first half, with the Bulldogs (12-3) outscoring UF off of miscues 19-15 in that time.

In the second half, Florida (15-1) trimmed their turnovers to eight and forced 13. The biggest difference was the point differential, as the Gators outscored Mississippi State 21-2 off of turnovers.

The most significant of those points came with 2:32 remaining in the game. After a Florida steal, Steffi Sorensen caught a long outlet pass and dropped it behind her back to Brooks, who easily made a layup to extend the lead to double figures, 71-61, for the first time in the game.

“I knew Sha was coming behind me,” said Sorensen, who finished with six points and four rebounds. “I had (6-foot-5 inch Chanel Mokango) on me. I was fortunate that she caught it and made it.”

MSU had allowed just 53 points per game this year, fourth best in the conference. The rapid Florida offense shredded that number, notching their 53rd point with 14:03 to play.

UF completed 29-of-56 field goals (51.8 percent) and held the Bulldogs to 22-of-58 (37.9) shooting.

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