Gators halt 'Dogs' streak

The Gators picked up a 61-45 win in front of 2,413 fans at the O’Connell Center.

Jason Henry/Special to Gatorsports
Published: Monday, January 19, 2009 at 1:16 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 19, 2009 at 1:16 p.m.

It’s been a season of program transformation for the Florida women’s basketball team. Sunday, another monkey was lifted off of the squad’s back.

After nine consecutive losses to SEC rival Georgia, the No. 19 Gators held the Bulldogs to their lowest point total in the 31-year history of the series, finishing with a 61-45 win in front of 2,413 fans at the O’Connell Center.

“I’m loving this,” said Marshae Dotson, part of a senior class that had never beaten Georgia.

Dotson finished with a game-high 20 points, adding six rebounds and two steals. Fellow senior Sha Brooks poured in 15 to move past Vanessa Hayden and into No. 7 in the program’s all-time scoring list. She sits two points shy of No. 6 Brandi McCain’s 1,580. Brooks also added a game-high six assists.

Florida, which had not beaten the Bulldogs since 2004, went blow-for-blow with its opponent for most of the first half. A 6-0 run midway through the period extended the lead to eight, 20-12, but Georgia managed to trim the deficit to two, 27-25, heading into the half.

“When you’re coaching against someone who’s won 800 ball games, you don’t want to stay close,” UF coach Amanda Butler said about Georgia’s Andy Landers, who notched career victory No. 800 on Thursday against Savannah State. “He knows how to win.”

The Bulldogs (16-3, 2-2 SEC) scored two of the first three buckets of the second half, claiming a 30-29 lead with 18:45 to play. The Gators (17-3, 3-1 SEC) responded with a 30-10 run over the next 14 minutes that brought the lead to a game-high 19 points.

The surge was highlighted by a Brooks’ 3-point shot that brought the lead to 17 and sent a typically subdued Brooks to halfcourt, where she screamed, jumped and brought the crowd to its feet.

“I was thinking that I had just stepped on their throat,” Brooks said.

The Gators succeeded in stopping the Bulldog duo of guard Ashley Houts and center Angel Robinson. The two have combined this season to average nearly 23 points. Sunday, Robinson fouled out with 6:41 left, finishing with seven points and eight rebounds. Houts fouled out minutes later with five points on 2-for-10 shooting.

Georgia was led by Porsha Phillips, who notched seven of her 11 points from the free-throw line.

The Gators hit on 24-of-60 shots (40 percent) for the game and held the Bulldogs to 16-of-50 (32 percent) shooting.

UF turned the ball over 15 times and forced 23 Georgia turnovers. The biggest difference in the numbers was Florida’s 30-10 advantage in scoring off of turnovers.

“This team gets its energy from defense,” Butler said. “That showed out there today.”

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