UF women's hoops hangs on for double overtime win
Published: Thursday, January 7, 2010 at 11:59 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 7, 2010 at 11:59 p.m.
It isn't often a team makes both good and bad history in one night, but Thursday's home SEC opener for the Florida women's basketball team wasn't a typical game.
After surging to a 20-point lead over Auburn in the first half, the Gators gave it all back in the second and needed two overtime sessions to claim the 71-68 victory.
With an 0-of-7 scoreless line into the second overtime, senior guard Steffi Sorensen nailed three long-range shots to seal the victory. Azania Stewart logged career-high points (21), rebounds (11) and minutes played (40) in a memorable battle against 6-foot-8-inch Tiger center KeKe Carrier. The 6-4 Stewart was 9-of-9 from the free-throw line, including two shots that sent the game into a second overtime.
“(Carrier) is a big body to start with” said Stewart. “... There were some times I couldn't see. She buried me. ... I had to put both arms into her and forget about the ball.”
After totaling two points in the first half, Carrier finished with 24 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. The senior scored nine of her team's 16 points in overtime, but was winded when she missed a pair of free throws late in the game.
After allowing just 15 points in the first half, the lowest for a Florida opponent since Alabama State's 14 on Dec. 20, 2006, the Gators (9-6, 2-0 SEC) had no answer for Carrier's 10 points during a 23-5 Auburn run that spanned 10:30 of the second half and trimmed the deficit to one.
Sorensen had a chance to put the game away with 11.6 seconds remaining, but missed a free throw that would have given Florida a four-point lead. Auburn responded when Nicolle Thomas hit a bank-in 3-pointer from the right side of the court with three seconds remaining to send the game into overtime.
Auburn (9-6, 0-2 SEC) opened the extra session with a pair of buckets to take its first lead since 2-0. Stewart scored four of Florida's six points in overtime, including a pair of free throws with 12.1 seconds remaining that tied the game at 58 and the Tigers went 3:02 without a point to force another period.
Sorensen opened the second overtime with three consecutive 3-pointers that put the Gators up 67-60 with 2:07 to play. Carrier scored five straight Auburn points, but looked exhausted as she missed two free throws in the final minute. As time expired, freshman Morgan Toles (14 points, six rebounds) had a chance to tie the game with a 3 that rimmed out.
Toles hit her first three shots and accounted for the first seven Tiger points in the game. The rest of the team started 0-of-10 from the field and didn't log a point until 10:03 in, including a 7:16 span without an Auburn point. Florida took advantage of the dry spell with a 23-6 spurt to extend its lead to a game-high 20 points.
All five Gator starters logged at least 30 minutes, with Stewart, Lonnika Thompson and Jordan Jones all playing 40. Florida hit 24-of-66 field goals (36.4 percent), 9-of-33 (27.3) from long range and 14-of-20 (70.0) from the line and was out-rebounded 58-46, but posted a 16-10 assist advantage and 8-5 block edge.
Auburn hit 25-of-76 attempts (32.9 percent) after completing just 18.5 percent in the first half.
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