George, Bonds lead Gators over Georgia St.

Published: Sunday, November 11, 2012 at 11:37 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, November 11, 2012 at 11:37 p.m.

Florida got a combined 36 points from returning starters Jennifer George and Jaterra Bonds, and a suffocating defense forced 28 Georgia State turnovers and recorded 17 steals as the Gators moved to 2-0 on the season with an 84-65 win over the Panthers Sunday in the O'Connell Center.

Redshirt sophomore Kayla Lewis had her first career double-double with 11 points and a career-high 12 rebounds and all 10 Gators who dressed out scored as sixth-year UF coach Amanda Butler notched win No. 100, joining her mentor, former coach Carol Ross (school-record 247 wins), as the only Gator coaches to hit the century mark.

“Georgia State is a very good team,” Butler said. “That was a really good test for us. They challenged us in ways that we needed to be challenged, in particular on the boards. I think initially we kind of shrunk from that challenge, but then we battled back and made some adjustments and started fighting for the ball.”

George, UF's lone senior and a first-team All-SEC selection, missed Friday's season-opening, 71-49 win over Fairfield for personal reasons, the first game she has missed in her career.

She scored UF's first points of the game Sunday and went on to finish with a game-high 19 points while adding eight rebounds, two steals and two blocks.

“It felt great to start my senior season and be able to help my team out,” George said. “It felt good to be out there again.”

Butler was glad to have her back.

“She (George) gives us a sense of confidence, and I don't think any other player on this team can quite do that yet,” Butler said. “I know in particular our point guards know that if they throw the ball in there, she's going to catch it and do her best to make a play. She gives us a great sense of peace, and obviously gives us at the same time another really dynamic weapon on both ends.”

Bonds, a junior who was hampered by foul trouble in Friday's win, scored 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting and added five rebounds, a career-high-tying four steals and four assists.

Her 17 points — 15 of which came in the opening half — were the most she has scored since March, 2011 of her freshman year when she dropped a career-high 23 against Charlotte.

“I was just trying to be aggressive and get out in transition and attack because I knew they weren't stopping the ball,” Bonds said. “You just have to adjust and give what the defense is giving you. They weren't stepping in front of me, and sometimes I avoided them. The first game, I didn't do that.”

Florida's four true freshmen again looked solid, led by Sydney Moss (10 points, three rebounds) and Christin Mercer (eight points, five rebounds).

Redshirt junior forward Lily Svete hit all three of her shots, including 2-of-2 from 3-point range, en route to scoring eight points and adding three rebounds and two steals in her second straight start.

UF led by 12, 37-25, at the half and led by as many as 29 points (75-46) with 7:04 left to play, but allowed the Panthers (1-1), who were led by 13 points from guard Kayla Nolan and 11 from forward Kendra Long, to trim the final margin to 19.

That, along with 23 Florida turnovers, were Butler's biggest areas of concern.

“Despite the margin of victory, the biggest thing we've got to be accountable for is how good we can be, and I didn't think in moments we were doing that.” she said. “We were relaxing because we were up for so long, and we don't want to learn a hard lesson by relaxing.

“I think we can play better. There were a lot of bright spots. I like the way we're pressing and were able to turn people over, but we've got to do a better job of maintaining intensity and focusing on details.”

The Gators travel to Tallahassee to face FSU Thursday night at 7 before returning to the O-Dome to host North Florida next Monday at 7 p.m.

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