UF women's hoops falls at home


Published: Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 7:39 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 7:39 p.m.

Rarely do 23.4 percent field-goal shooting, 16 missed free throws and going without a basket for the last 9:39 of a game translate into victory, but that's just the formula that No. 19 South Carolina used to pick up a big Southeastern Conference road win Sunday with a 52-44 decision over Florida before an O'Connell Center crowd of 1,503.

“It's huge,” said Gamecocks' head coach Dawn Staley, whose team came into the game ranked No. 1 in the SEC and No. 3 in the nation in scoring defense, allowing an average of just 47.8 points a game.

“As you can see from our shooting percentage and our free throw shooting, we have to play that way from a defensive standpoint. It was tough coming in here and getting a win.”

The Gators (13-6, 2-3) did little to help their cause, shooting a season-low 29.8 percent (17-of-57) from the field including a horrendous 2-for-19 effort in the opening 13 minutes to fall behind 17-6 before junior point guard Jaterra Bonds, the only player in double figures for UF with a game-high16 points, helped them score 11 points over the final 6:58 of the first half to pull within 24-17 at the break.

“I think that when we got the ball, we were looking for someone to pass it to instead of just getting the rebound and going,” said Bonds. “I don't know why that didn't click. All around I just think that we did bad, honestly.”

Florida, which never led in the contest, did fight back to tie the score at 35-all when Bonds scored the last of five straight points on a drive to the basket with 12:14 remaining in the game.

But freshman guard Khadijah Sessions, who led the Gamecocks (16-3, 4-2) with 15 points, responded with her third 3-pointer of the night with 11:51 left to spark a critical 10-0 run over the next 2:12 as South Carolina built a 45-35 lead, forcing a UF timeout with 9:39 left to play.

Despite not scoring another basket the rest of the way and struggling at the free-throw line (17-of-33) all day, South Carolina, which also got 14 points from senior forward Ashley Bruner, was able to hold off the Gators, who on several occasions got within three points down the stretch only to watch a potential game-tying 3-pointer rim out. UF finished the game just 2-of-13 from beyond the arc.

“Obviously we're very disappointed in the way we played, in particular in the first half,” UF head coach Amanda Butler said. “We were just not ourselves, and you don't have time or room for that this time of the year when your backs are against the wall.”

The Gamecocks took advantage of the absence of UF senior All-SEC forward Jennifer George, who missed just the second game of her career (dislocated shoulder), to out-rebound UF by a 59-41 margin, including a huge 26-9 edge on the offensive end that did not sit well with Butler.

South Carolina got a game-high 12 rebounds from sophomore forward Aleigsha Welch and 11 from freshman guard Tiffany Mitchell, while Bruner just missed a double-double with nine.

UF came into the contest having won the battle of the boards in 13 straight games.

“I was really disappointed in our rebounding performance, something we worked hard on this week,” Butler said. “We didn't carry it over to the game, and there's really no excuse for that. But you have to give South Carolina a lot of credit. They played very hard and played very tough. Obviously it was their No. 1 agenda item to outrebound us, and they did that and then some.”

Outside of Bonds, who led UF in scoring for the fifth straight SEC game, the Gators got little offensive production. True freshmen Sydney Moss and Christin Mercer were next in line with six points apiece, but were a combined 5-of-21 from the floor.

The Gators will try and even their SEC slate when they host Ole Miss (7-11, 0-5) Thursday at 7 p.m. in the O-Dome.

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