UF falls on buzzer-beater
Published: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 9:30 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 9:30 p.m.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Call it the stunner in South Carolina.
No. 24 Florida was 3.4 seconds away from celebrating its 11th straight win and a 4-0 start in the Southeastern Conference play.
In an in instant, everything changed.
First, Chandler Parsons missed the front-end of a one-and-one free-throw attempt with Florida up 69-68. Then, the rebound spilled perfectly into the hands of South Carolina forward Mike Holmes.
Then, South Carolina guard Zam Fredrick beats Dan Werner by a few steps down the floor and takes a baseball pass from Holmes three-quarters of the way down the floor. Fredrick closes the game with a lay-in at the buzzer.
Bang. Bang. Bang. Florida left the floor in stunned silence, 70-69 losers to the Gamecocks because of a mental breakdown in the closing seconds.
“It’s something you are not going to forget,” Florida senior guard Walter Hodge said.
Florida coach Billy Donovan is counting on the rest of his team not to forget as well.
“You really find out how much you want something when you go through something like this,” Donovan said.
Donovan said he felt like Florida was matched up well on the play and had Hodge cheat toward South Carolina guard Devan Downey because that’s where he felt the ball would go on a missed shot. Downey led South Carolina (13-4, 2-2) with 20 points, including a miraculous fall-away 3-pointer to cut Florida’s lead to 69-67 with 27.3 seconds left.
“It was a great play by Holmes,” Donovan said. “(Fredrick) got behind Dan on the play. I thought Dan, obviously being an older guy back there, just put Alex (Tyus) up and Dan back and he just got behind Dan. That’s what it boiled down to. The play set up perfectly for them, the way the ball came off the rim, the read that Holmes made on the pass. Credit them for making the play.”
Holmes, meanwhile, said he gave Fredrick a head nod from the free throw line, a signal that he was going to look for him if he got a rebound.
“I told him to go deep,” Holmes said.
Florida (16-3, 3-1 SEC) failed to close out a 67-60 lead in the final 2:27, spoiling a gritty effort on the road. Nick Calathes led Florida with 20 points and five assists, with Parsons adding 14 points and nine rebounds.
But Calathes turned the ball over to Downey with 1:01 left and failed to make the front-end of a one-and-one with Florida up 69-67 and 13.3 seconds left.
“I made some careless plays,” Calathes said. “The whole team did.”
With 4.3 seconds left Florida fouled Fredrick driving to the basket. Fredrick, who had missed three of his previous four attempts, made his first free throw and missed his second. Parsons boxed out for the rebound and was fouled, setting up his trip to the line with 3.4 seconds left.
“We left four points out there in the last 13 seconds,” Donovan said.
Florida will have some extra time to regroup, not playing again until Sunday at Vanderbilt.
“Sometimes, you have to get hardened,” Donovan said. “Hopefully this makes us a tougher team. I’ve never been a big believer in moral victories. Do guys like Chandler and Nick stay late in the gym and take extra free throws, does Dan Werner provide the kind of leadership we need in the floor late in the game? That’s what I’m anxious to see.”
Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or email@example.com.
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