Gators' rally can't catch up to slow start

Published: Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 15, 2013 at 1:53 a.m.

Behind 21 points from Jaterra Bonds, Florida nearly overcame a 28-point deficit but in the end the point spread proved to be too much in a 71-59 loss at Virginia Tech at Cassell Coliseum Thursday evening in the Gator's first road game of season.

Florida, which was looking for its first 3-0 start since the 2002-03 season, used a furious second-half rally to chip away at the Hokies' 39-15 halftime lead and came within four points, 53-49, with 6:51 remaining after Cassie Peoples hit a pullup jumper in the paint.

Virginia Tech responded with an 11-3 run and Florida was unable to stage one final push, having used its last timeout with 8:45 to go.

Bonds also tied her career-high eight rebounds, as she converted 9-of-10 free throws.

Fellow senior Lily Svete also finished with a double-figure scoring effort, netting all 12 of her points in the second half from behind the arc.

All eight Gators who dressed for the game scored, with Kayla Lewis contributing 9 points and 11 rebounds to lead UF's charge on the boards where the won the battle, 38-34.

Florida ended the game with a 33.3 shooting percentage, including a 46.7 mark during the second half when the team hit 5-of15 from long range.

Virginia Tech's Vanessa Panousis led all scorers with 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting, while Uju Ugoka posted 17 points and 12 rebounds.

January Miller's bucket with 10:34 remaining in the first half brought the Gators within five points, 15-10, however, that would be the team's final field goal of the frame, getting just five more points from the free throw line en route to the 39-15 halftime deficit.

Florida took the shots it wanted in the opening 20 minutes, but couldn't get the ball to fall and converted a mere 16.7 percent (4-24) during the first half, including a 0-8 effort from long range.

Virginia Tech capitalized on Florida's shooting woes, as the Hokies ripped off a game-changing 18-0 run over a 5:23 span that gave them a commanding 33-10 lead with 4:44 remaining in the half.

Bonds was UF's leading scorer in the first half with six points, while Lewis and Ronni Williams both netted three.

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