FLORIDA WOMEN'S BASKETBALL
UF beats FIU to win Holiday Classic title
Published: Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 11:34 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 11:34 p.m.
Led by career-high scoring performances from Tournament MVP Cassie Peoples and fellow All-Tournament selection Christin Mercer, host Florida claimed the championship of the 23rd Gator Holiday Classic with a 90-74 win over FIU Saturday before an O'Connell Center crowd of 1,091.
Georgetown (6-5) at Florida (9-3), Dec. 28, 2 p.m.
Peoples scored 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the field, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range, and Mercer poured in 31 points on 15-of-17 shooting as UF (9-3) won for the fifth game in a row while claiming the program's 19th Holiday Classic title.
Senior Jaterra Bonds added 17 points and a game-high seven assists for the Gators, who shot a blistering 62.9 percent (39-of-62) from the field in the win.
Florida led 53-34 at the half and was up by as many as 24 points in the second half before FIU (4-6), sparked by the play of senior guard Jerica Coley who led all scorers with 35 points, cut the lead to 10, 80-70, with 4:24 left to play.
Mercer, however, scored eight straight points to spark a 10-1 UF run that put the game out of reach.
“It's important for us from a confidence standpoint to jump out to a lead and never relinquish it,” UF coach Amanda Butler said. “We had a little lull in there. We gave up 40 points in the second half, and that's a lot. But they got hot and their shooters heated up.
“Most importantly, we got the win and got to win a championship in front of our home fans.”
Earlier, La Salle posted a 66-58 win over Tennessee State in the consolation game.
Freshman Micahya Owens led the Explorers (4-6) with 19 points, while the Lady Tigers (3-10) got 15 points and 16 rebounds from freshman Imani Davis.
Both Owens and Davis joined FIU's Coley and UF's Peoples and Mercer in earning All-Tournament honors.
The Gators, in the midst of a five-game homestand, next face Georgetown in the O'Dome on Dec. 28.
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