Women's hoops ends four-game skid


Published: Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 28, 2011 at 12:38 a.m.

All good things must eventually come to an end. Thankfully for the UF women’s basketball team, the same could be said for bad things.

The Gators struggled through a tough shooting night and traded punches with visiting Alabama all evening, but managed to erase a four-game losing skid with a 70-64 victory.

“This was the biggest game of the year, not because we had been on a little slide, but because Alabama was who’s next,” coach Amanda Butler said. “Mississippi State is now the biggest game of the year for us, and we’ve got to prepare that way.”

Florida was led by Jennifer George, who recorded 12 points. Guard Jaterra Bonds came off of the bench to match her 12 points, and added a team-high eight rebounds. Lanita Bartley chipped in nine points, five assists and three steals and celebrated the victory by tossing the ball up into the air as the final buzzer sounded.

“Our team is really emotional,” Bartley said. “I’m just happy that we won and bounced back. We’re putting the other games in the past.”

The teams swapped the lead 14 times on the night. Five came in the opening three minutes as the squads matched jumper for jumper. The Tide’s Celiscia Farmer scored all seven of her points in a two-minute stretch that helped her team extend the lead to 11-5.

The Gators started 3-of-20 (15 percent) from the field, but remained in the game with a heavy rebounding edge.

Florida (13-9, 3-5 SEC) got back on the board with a 12-8 run to regain the advantage and neither team led by more than four for the remainder of the half. A pair of Brittany Shine free throws with 18.6 seconds remaining in the period knotted the score at 30 until Ericka Russell dropped in a layup at the buzzer to give Alabama (11-10, 0-8) the halftime lead.

That changed with an 11-2 Gator run after the intermission that resulted in the final lead change of the night. The Tide trimmed the deficit to one with 10:54 to play, but Florida stepped on the gas again and held the team at arm’s length the rest of the way. The lead grew to a game-high nine in the closing seconds with a pair of Azania Stewart free throws.

UF made 25-of-63 (39.7 percent) shots from the field, but used a 52-41 rebounding advantage to create a 22-9 second-chance points edge. Alabama was led by Kaneisha Horn’s 21 points. Senior Tierney Jenkins, who like Butler is a native of tiny Mt. Juliet, Tenn., added 14 points and a game-high 16 boards.

“I’m just proud of the team and the fight and the maturity and the composure that we showed in some game moments,” Butler said.

“Earlier, we hadn’t shown that mentality. That’s big steps for us and great growth. It’s confidence building.”

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