Notebook: Women’s hoops seeks WNIT title
Published: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 6:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 12:11 a.m.
With four consecutive road victories on their current Women’s National Invitation Tournament run, the Florida Gators have definitely earned the label of ‘Road Warriors.’
With two more wins in unfriendly arenas, they can claim the title of ‘WNIT Champions.’
The challenge continues Wednesday night at 7 in Philadelphia where UF (22-14) will face Drexel (26-10) on its home court in what will be only the second national semifinal tournament appearance in program history (2000 WNIT).
“They’re really talented and are a tough matchup for us,” head coach Amanda Butler said of the Dragons. “They can really shoot the ball well and really do a great job of controlling tempo and making you play their style of game, so we’re definitely going to have our hands full, especially playing on their court.”
Freshman Sydney Moss has led the Gators in the postseason, averaging 19.5 points and 8.8 rebounds a game while shooting 54.7 percent (35-of-64) from the field.
She is coming off a game-high 27-point effort in UF’s thrilling 85-80 quarterfinal win at James Madison Saturday.
“She’s very selfless and is quick to give credit to her teammates,” Butler said. “She’s very humble and just wants to be great and make the Gators great above all else, and that comes through in a big way.”
The top-ranked Gators will get to strut their stuff one more time in the O’Connell Center when they host the NCAA Gainesville Regional Saturday at 6 p.m.
Joining Florida will be No. 12 Auburn, No. 13 (tie) Minnesota, No. 24 Maryland, No. 29 Bridgeport and No. 26 Pittsburgh, with the top two teams advancing to the NCAA Championships in Los Angeles Apr. 19-21.
“It’s going to be an absolutely tremendous competition,” head coach Rhonda Faehn said.
“We’re looking forward to having a few days of practice here, then gearing up for training day in the O-Dome on Friday and then getting the competition underway on Saturday.”
Swimming & Diving
The UF men and women both finished sixth at the 2013 NCAA Championships, marking the 13th consecutive top-10 finish for the men and 12th straight for the women.
The women accumulated 35 All-America honors and set three school records with freshmen Natalie Hinds and Sinead Russell (seven honors each) leading the way, while junior Marcin Cieslak led the men, finishing second in all three individual events and breaking a pair of school records en route to also earning seven All-America honors.
“We’re tremendously pleased with our seasons on both sides,” head coach Gregg Troy said.
“We’ve laid a great base for the future, but at the same time, we felt like we could have been a little bit better.”
The No. 2 Gators (15-2, 8-1) stretched their winning streak to eight straight with road wins over LSU and Arkansas over the weekend, moving into a four-way tie for first in the SEC standings thanks to No. 5 Georgia’s road win over No. 3 Texas A&M.
“That’s probably the first, and I hope the last, time I ever pull for Georgia women’s tennis,” head coach Roland Thornqvist said.
“I told the team when we landed that we were given a gift, and we now control our own destiny as far as having a chance to raise another trophy, albeit maybe a shared one.”
UF hosts Ole Miss (10-9, 4-5) Friday at 5 p.m. and Mississippi State (7-10, 1-8) Sunday at 10 a.m.
UF (10-8, 4-4) split a pair of home matches over the weekend, falling to LSU Friday before rebounding to defeat Arkansas 4-0 Sunday.
The 20th-ranked Gators will travel to No. 10 Ole Miss (13-5, 6-3) Friday before returning home to face No. 13 Mississippi State (13-7, 3-5) Sunday at 1 p.m.
“Confidence certainly comes from winning and having success, so for us to have success on Sunday, we’d like to carry that over to this week in our preparation for Ole Miss and Mississippi State,” said first-year head coach Bryan Shelton. “They’re two quality teams who are both ranked in the top 15.”
Track & Field
Florida will play host to the 69th Annual Pepsi Florida Relays at the Percy Beard Track Thursday through Saturday.
The meet annually attracts some of the top post-collegiate, collegiate and high school athletes in the country, and this year’s event promises to be no different.
“It’s Florida Relays week, and everybody’s excited and everybody’s hyped about it,” said head coach Mike Holloway.
“It’s a great field and there are some great teams coming down.
Anywhere from Olympic and world championship gold medalists to the best high school athletes in the world will be here this weekend.”
Second-ranked UF (13-1, 1-1) suffered its first defeat in a 16-11 road loss to No. 10 Penn State Saturday as the Nittany Lions (7-3, 2-0) defeated Florida for the first time in five meetings.
The Gators face another tough ALC foe when No. 12 Johns Hopkins (7-4, 1-1) comes to town for a noon matchup Saturday.
“We sort of have to put it behind us and learn from it and move on, and that’s just what we hope to do,” head coach Amanda O’Leary said.
“We have a really good Johns Hopkins team coming in here, so we need to play well, we need to play hard and get back on our winning ways.”