UF roundup: Late 3-pointer from Needles lifts Gators
Published: Friday, November 23, 2012 at 11:28 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 23, 2012 at 11:28 p.m.
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Carlie Needles hit a 3-pointer with six seconds remaining to help the Florida women's basketball team earn a hard-fought 66-64 win against N.C. State on Friday in the first day of action at the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout at the South Point Arena in Las Vegas.
There were 14 lead changes and 13 tied scores in the game, as the Gators improved to 4-1 this season and handed the Wolfpack (4-1) their first loss of the year.
With N.C. State using a 7-0 run to take a 54-49 lead with 5:58 remaining, Florida's Vicky McIntyre hit an eight-foot baseline jumper to halt the spurt and spark a 5-1 march for the Gators, who closed to within 55-54 with 4:30 on the clock.
The Wolfpack came right back with an offensive rebound putback by Kody Burke, but the Gators rallied as Jaterra Bonds converted two free throws, Sydney Moss banked in a six-foot pull-up jumper on a fast break and Jennifer George hit one free throw and Florida took a 59-57 advantage with 2:37 remaining.
As the entire game flowed, both teams answered each other's run with one of their own and N.C. State came right back with one free throw followed by a 3-pointer from Marissa Kastanek and the Pack regained the lead, 61-59, with 1:43 to play.
Florida called a timeout to settle down and Needles came out of the 30-second break nailing her second of three 3-pointers and swung the lead back to the Gators, 61-62, with 59 seconds remaining.
N.C. State then called a timeout and Florida seemed to play solid defense, as Burke missed an outside jumper that was tipped, but the Gators couldn't find the flailing ball in the air, as it landed right into Markeisha Gatling's waiting arms under the basket and she put in the short uncontested jumper that gave the Pack the lead with 42 seconds left.
Florida missed its shot on its next offensive possession and N.C. State collected the rebounded, and the Gators were forced to foul Kastanek. Kastanek made the first but missed the second, and the Pack held a 64-62 lead.
That set up Needles' 3-point heroics, as she calmly sank a shot from the left corner while standing directly in front of the Gator bench, as Florida took the 65-64 lead.
After the Pack called a timeout, they turned the ball over dribbling up the court and were forced to foul Moss, who sank one of two with 0.9 seconds remaining for the final score.
The Gators continue action at the tournament Saturday when they play Northern Iowa (2-1) at 3 p.m. The Panthers lost to Arizona State, 66-63.
VOLLEYBALL: No. 15 Florida (25-4, 19-1 SEC) ended the regular season on a high note, sweeping SEC rival Georgia, 3-0 (25-21, 25-22, 25-19). The Gators finished the season winning seven of their final eight matches.
"To end the season with a win tonight, we knew we had to come in here and play our hardest," Florida coach Mary Wise said. "I can't say enough about our fight against a tough Georgia team, who never backed down."
Florida's 3-0 sweep of Georgia was just the second time the Bulldogs were swept on their home floor in 2012. It marked the Gators' 17th sweep of the season and gives Florida 25 wins for the 22nd consecutive season, all under Wise.
The Gators had three players in double-digit kills, led by the stellar play of Florida's middles. Senior Betsy Smith, who grew up just 60 minutes from Athens, turned in 10 kills and three blocks on the night. Fellow middle Chloe Mann tallied 10 kills and five blocks against the Bulldogs, hitting .471 on the evening.
Freshman outside hitter Ziva Recek was the third Gator in double digits, posting a match-high 12 kills against Georgia.
The Gators now await their NCAA fate. Florida earned the SEC's automatic bid for the NCAA Championships. The NCAA Selection Show will air live at 4 p.m. Sunday on ESPNU.
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