FLORIDA WOMEN'S BASKETBALL
Illinois St. slips by Gators at Junkanoo
Published: Friday, November 29, 2013 at 6:54 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 29, 2013 at 6:54 p.m.
FREEPORT, Grand Bahama Island — Senior Jaterra Bonds scored a team-best 25 points and helped Florida erase a late 14-point deficit Friday, but Illinois State remained composed and handed the Gators a 68-64 loss in the first round of the Junkanoo Jam.
Oregon State (4-1) vs. Florida (4-3)
WHEN: Saturday, 1:45 p.m.
RADIO: WGGG AM-1230
Florida meets Oregon State (4-1) in the consolation game on Saturday at 1:45 p.m. The Beavers lost to No. 13 Penn State, 61-56, in their first-round game.
"Illinois State was clearly just a lot more ready to play than the Gators were today and I have to take responsibility for that,” UF coach Amanda Butler said. “I'm just really, really embarrassed by the way we played in the first half, but then you have to give Illinois State credit for that."
Illinois State (1-3) used a 17-4 run midway through the first half to build a 24-10 lead. Bonds, who equaled a career-high, tallied four points in a mini 6-0 run that had the Gators within seven points with 3:12 remaining in the opening period, but the Redbirds scored the next six points en route to a 35-24 halftime lead.
The teams exchanged scores for the first seven minutes of the second half until the Gators (4-3) ripped off an 11-0 spree and tied the game at 44 with 10:41 to play.
Bonds scored five points during the run, while freshman Ronni Williams, who finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots, scored four points and Kayla Lewis, who finished with 10 points and eight rebounds, added an inside bucket.
Illinois State's Chloe Nelson, who finished with a game-high 26 points, scored the game's next three points to keep the Gators from taking the lead.
Florida tied the game three more times and even took a two-point lead, 51-49, with 7:49 remaining, but that was the only time the Redbird defense allowed the Gators consecutive scores after knotting the game.
The Gators managed to tie the score at 54 as late as 6:26 remaining when Williams hit one of two free throws, but Brianna Puni put back an offensive rebound and Nelson drained one of her four 3-pointers and gave Illinois State the five-point cushion with 4:02 to go.
The teams traded scores until ISU converted back-to-back possessions, capped by Stekara Hall's driving layup that put the Redbirds on top, 65-58, with 1:34 and that seemed to be the backbreaker.
The Gators, however, refused to fold and had one final push when senior Lily Svete canned one of her two 3-pointers and had the Gators within four points with 1:18 to play. But Florida missed a couple clutch free throw attempts in the final minute that would have put them closer.