Women's hoops tames Tigers

Florida guard Deana Allen, right, defends Tigers guard Najat Ouardad during the first half on Thursday.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Thursday, February 9, 2012 at 11:51 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 9, 2012 at 11:51 p.m.

This sense of urgency thing with Florida is getting contagious.

Senior guards Lanita Bartley and Deana Allen scored 17 and 14 points, respectively, and sophomore guard Jaterra Bonds, a P.K. Yonge alum, added 12 as the Gators won their third straight Southeastern Conference game with a 70-56 win over Auburn Thursday before an O'Connell Center crowd of 1,419.

With the victory, UF (16-8, 6-5) moved above the .500 mark in SEC play for the first time this season and took another step toward a first-division league finish and NCAA Tournament bid.

“It was a very good win,” UF coach Amanda Butler said. “I didn't think we played our best, but it's a great indication when you feel that way and you're still able to beat what I think is a very talented team by double figures.”

Bartley, Allen and Bonds were a combined 15-of-23 (65.2 percent) from the floor, including 6-of-7 from three-point range. Junior forward Jennifer George added seven points, eight rebounds and blocked three shots for the Gators, who had a 26-11 advantage in points off turnovers.

Junior forward Blanche Alverson led Auburn with a game-high 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting. The rest of the Tigers, however were just 14-of-42 (33.3 percent).

“I thought Florida's defense was really good tonight,” said Auburn head coach Nell Fortner. “They really took us out of a lot of our stuff offensively. They did a good job defensively and they shot that three-ball well tonight. That was tough to defend.”

The Tigers (11-14, 3-9) got off to a good start, hitting five of their first seven shots en route to taking a 14-10 lead five minutes into the game. A three-pointer by Allen with 12:26 left in the first half gave UF its first lead, 17-16, and from there the teams went back and forth until the last 1:52 when the Gators' defense keyed a 7-2 run that broke a 29-29 tie and gave them a 36-31 halftime lead.

That momentum continued as redshirt senior forward Ndidi Madu, held scoreless in the first half, scored six of her seven points to spark a 10-0 run to open the second half and give UF a 46-31 lead with 17:19 left to play. Auburn responded with five quick points to cut the lead to 10 with 16 minutes remaining, but would get no closer as the Gators, who led by as many as 18 points, clamped down defensively, holding the Tigers to just 8-of-26 shooting in the second half and forcing 21 turnovers in the game.

“We just knew that we had to start the second half better than the first half,” Madu said, “We had to start on the defensive end. We had to have intensity.”

“It's February; this is when you have to really buckle down,” Allen said. “Everyone is putting in a collective effort. When everybody feels good about themselves, we're a feel good team, and that is great for the Gators. When everyone is feeling confident in their game, we feed off of that and it makes us better.”

UF travels to take on No. 24 South Carolina Sunday at 5 p.m. The game will be televised live by ESPN2.

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