Women's hoops tops Buckeyes

Ohio State's Amber Stokes (3) fights for a lose ball against Florida's Jennifer George, left, and Deana Allen on Sunday, March 18, 2012, during the second half of a first-round NCAA women's college basketball tournament game in Bowling Green, Ohio. (The Associated Press)

Published: Sunday, March 18, 2012 at 4:44 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, March 18, 2012 at 4:44 p.m.

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — Jaterra Bonds made 3-of-4 free throws in the final 12 seconds Sunday to help seal Florida's 70-65 victory over Ohio State in the first round of the NCAA women's tournament.

The ninth-seeded Gators (20-12) face overall top seed Baylor at 7 p.m. Tuesday with the winner advancing to the Sweet 16.

“The bottom line is that we were tough,” said Florida senior Jordan Jones. “It didn't matter how close they got, a different person stepped up each time.”

Florida never trailed, jumping out to a 9-0 lead in the first two minutes of the game. The Gators went on to take a 39-31 lead at the half.

The Gators maintained control in the second half and held a 10-point lead, 59-49, with 7:22 remaining.

Then missed shots and turnovers allowed Ohio State to get back into the game.

Florida had three straight turnovers with the third leading to a layup by OSU's Tayler Hill, cutting the Gators' lead to 65-63 with 1:01 left. Florida then called a time out.

“The turnovers weren't because of anything they had done defensively to us. We just didn't do a good job of making decisions with the ball,” Florida coach Amanda Butler said. “We just wanted to be calm, get our bearings. ‘Let's not freak out. We got a lead. We're in good position.'

“At the end of the huddle after giving all those instructions, I told all of them: 'Look at me, we're going to win y' all, we've got this,' Butler continued. “Their looks back were very confident and at the moment I did have a little bit of a sigh of relief, just because of the way they looked.”

The Gators went back inside to Jennifer George and she hit a short left-handed hook with 45 seconds left to push her team up 67-63.

After an OSU miss, Florida won the scramble for the loose ball and Jones was fouled.

Jones missed a free throw with 17.8 seconds left, but teammate Azania Stewart grabbed the rebound.

Bonds then made both ends of a 1-and-1 to go up 69-63. OSU's Amber Stokes banked in a shot with 6.7 left, making it 69-65.

Bonds sealed the win with two free throws with 5.3 seconds left.

Florida's defense was a difference-maker, as the Gators' held Samantha Prahalis, the Big Ten player of the year, scoreless in the second half. She finished with nine points, 11 below her average.

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