Gators top Cats, lead SEC

Published: Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 30, 2009 at 12:19 a.m.

Improving to 12-0 at home looked like a cinch early on for the UF women’s basketball team Thursday, but it turned out to not be such a sure thing.

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Florida guard Sha Brooks drives to the basket past Kentucky defender Carly Morrow on Thursday.

Aaron Daye/Staff photographer

The No. 12 Gators jumped on Kentucky early with a 22-4 lead, but gave most of it back before leaving the O’Connell Center with a 74-59 victory.

Sha Brooks was one of four Gators in double-figures, finishing with a team-high 17 points, nine assists and six steals.

Marshae Dotson led Florida on the boards with eight rebounds to go with 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting.

UF (19-2, 5-1 SEC) shot out of the gates, running circles around the Wildcats offensively and holding them to bad shots on defense. Kentucky started 2-of-17 from the field in the first 8:56.

The Wildcats (12-9, 2-4 SEC) responded with a 10-2 run that trimmed the deficit to 10. From that point, they nipped at the Gators heels all night.

“The thing I’m most proud of was how we answered when they cut into our lead,” UF coach Amanda Butler said. “You know that’s going to happen. The teams are too good in this league...They’re going to make adjustments and come back on you.”

Kentucky got to within single digits four times in the second half, but each time the Gators responded with a timely rebound and a big shot.

A Steffi Sorensen three pointer stopped a 6-0 Wildcat run to open the second half. Back-to-back Trumae Lucas threes broke up a 7-2 run soon after.

The largest surge came during a 13-2 Kentucky run to make it a 55-50 game with 8:45 to play. Butler called a timeout to regroup her team while using what she said wasn’t her friendliest voice.

“It put everbody on their toes and snapped everyone back into reality,” Brooks said. “It forces us to play harder.”

The Gators outscored the Wildcats 19-9 following the timeout to win their fourth straight game before heading on the road for four of their next five.

UF hit on 28-of-60 shots from the field (46.7 percent). Kentucky completed 18-of-57 field goals (31.6) and was out-rebounded 42-36.

Victoria Dunlap was one of three Wildcat players in double figures, finishing with 16 points and 12 rebounds

Florida dished out 16 assists on 28 shots, led by Brooks’ nine, which ties a career high.

With the win, and an Auburn loss to Georgia, the Gators regain a share of the SEC lead with a 5-1 conference record.

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