UF women's hoops earns upset win over LSU

Published: Sunday, January 15, 2012 at 11:25 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 15, 2012 at 11:25 p.m.

Having lost their first two Southeastern Conference home games and three of their first four league contests, the Florida Gators were well aware they could ill afford a loss to SEC co-leader LSU on Sunday if they wanted to make the preseason predictions of a first-division league finish a reality.

While the task was a daunting one, head coach Amanda Butler's squad responded with a complete team effort in a 62-58 upset win before an O'Connell Center crowd of 1,509, handing LSU (13-4, 4-1) its first SEC defeat and ending the Tigers' 10-game winning streak.

All five SEC games for UF (12-6, 2-3) have now been decided by six points or less, but prior to Sunday, only one had ended in a Gator victory.

“I'm really proud of the way they bounced back after some really tough losses,” said Butler, who had beaten every SEC team but LSU. “I think it would be very easy to start to hang your head and doubt a little bit, and then you're facing a team that's top three in the country in defense. With our kids having trouble scoring, I think it would have been real easy for our kids to have less belief than they did, but they didn't allow that to happen. They prepared with a lot of confidence and played with a lot of confidence, and more importantly, they just played really tight and really together.”

“It was huge,” said senior guard Jordan Jones, who led UF with 16 points and was 6-of-12 from the field, including 4-of-9 from three-point range, while adding six rebounds, one shy of her career-high.

“If there's such a thing as a must win four games into the SEC season, this was it. We knew that no one was going to pick us to win and we had our backs against the wall, but that just goes to show what we're capable of.”

Seniors Ndidi Madu and Deana Allen got their second and third consecutive starts, respectively. Madu responded with nine points and five rebounds while Allen had four points and a team-high eight boards. UF also got nine points from sophomore guard Jaterra Bonds and six from sophomore forward Lily Svete, who hit a couple of big treys in the first half to help UF, which held LSU scoreless for more than 10 points, take a 32-25 halftime lead. Senior guard Lanita Bartley added a game-high six assists.

At the break, every UF player had scored but the team's leading scorer, junior forward Jennifer George, who picked up two fouls in the first three minutes and only played a total of 16 minutes. She did hit a key hoop with 2:28 left after LSU had used a 15-2 run to cut a 53-38 UF lead with 7:39 remaining in the game to 55-53, but eventually fouled out with just six points and a season-low two rebounds.

“Coming in, we knew we had to be aggressive,” Madu said. “George scores a lot of points for us, but when she went out in the first few minutes of the game, we knew we had to score and rebound.”

LSU was led by forwards LaSondra Barrett (17 points, 11 rebounds) and Courtney Jones (15 points).

“I think anytime you have to play catch-up, and we played catch-up the majority of the game, there's going to be a period there where you either push ahead or tie it and then you can kind of feel like the momentum is going your way, but if you don't get to that tie or don't go up by one or two baskets, it exhausts you,” said LSU head coach and former Tennessee All-America Nikki Caldwell. “We've proven we can come back, but we continue to dig ourselves a hole, and Florida made sure we weren't coming out of that hole.”

The Gators will look to even their SEC slate when they host Alabama in the O-Dome Thursday night at 7.

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