Gators rally to defeat Georgetown 67-65 in overtime


Senior Jaterra Bonds led the Gators to a 67-65 win against Georgetown with a career-high 26 points.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Saturday, December 28, 2013 at 10:20 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, December 28, 2013 at 10:20 p.m.

Senior Jaterra Bonds scored a career-high 26 points and gave Florida its first lead of the game three seconds into overtime as the Gators overcame a 16-point halftime deficit and completed the fourth-largest comeback win in program history with a 67-65 victory against Georgetown on Saturday in the O'Connell Center.

The game was the final non-conference contest for both teams.

The Gators won the overtime tip and it took Bonds three seconds to drive to the basket, where she converted the lay-in and completed the three-point-play that gave Florida a 61-58 lead.

“I was just trying to be aggressive and no one can stop me from getting to the shoulder, from getting to the paint,” Bonds said. “If my team needed me to score points, they can count on me to make the bucket. I was just trying to be aggressive.”

Georgetown center Natalie Butler, who led the visitors with 16 points and 18 rebounds, closed the gap with a layup, but the Gators kept the lead at three on the next possession when Kayla Lewis knocked down two free throws with 2:43 to play in the bonus period and Florida held a 63-60 edge with 2:43 on the clock.

January Miller, who had just been re-inserted into the game, came up with a defensive steal and the Gators took advantage, as sophomore Cassie Peoples drilled a 25-footer as the shot clock was expiring that lifted the Gators to a 66-60 edge with 1:57 on the clock.

GU's Faith Woodard answered with a tree on the other end 15 seconds later and kept the difference between the two teams at three.

The Gators committed their 18th turnover of the game on their next possession and Woodard made it count for GU, as her off-balance 2-point jumper banked in off the glass with 25.1 to play, and the Gator lead was down to one, 66-65.

Florida nearly turned the ball over again, but called a timeout with 17 seconds to go to set up its next series. Bonds drove hard and was fouled. She made the first free throw that was for her career-high 26th point and gave Florida a 67-65 lead, but missed the second with 15 seconds remaining.

Martin missed her 3-point try with nine seconds left and Bonds corralled the defensive board to close out Florida's comeback.

Florida was woeful in the first half when it committed 12 of its 18 turnovers and dug itself a 34-18 halftime hole.

“The game plan that their coach put together obviously dictated the first 20 minutes of basketball,” UF coach Amanda Butler said. “I'm very proud of my team to come out of the locker room and change that. We thrive off of scoring points, tempo and that sort of thing. We really fell in line with what they wanted us to do in the first 20 minutes and played Florida basketball the final 25 minutes.”

The Gators found a way to tie the game at 46 with 6:23 remaining in regulation, at 55 with 2:23 on the clock. After Woodard converted a pair of free throws with 27 seconds left that gave the Hoyas a 58-55 lead, Bonds found Peoples for an open three. The sophomore, who had missed nine of her first 10 shots from the field, including all four from deep, delivered from beyond the arc and brought the O'Connell Center crowd to its feet with 20.9 to play in regulation and tied the score at 58.

Martin's 3-pointer at the buzzer missed the mark for the Hoyas and the game headed into overtime.

The Gators outscored Georgetown 40-24 in the second half, when they shot 46.9 percent after a 20.8 percent mark in the first 20 minutes.

The opening five minutes of the game witnessed back-and-forth action, with each team struggling to find a groove. Miller and Bonds tallied a pair of baskets as the Gators trailed 7-4 at the under-16 timeout. Florida struggled from the field as Georgetown went on a 10-1 run to increase its lead to 17-5, forcing Florida to take a timeout at 10:36.

Bonds ended Florida's 9:40 field goal drought with 6:36 left in the half. The senior followed the basket up with a fastbreak layup to cut the deficit to 21-12, forcing the Hoyas to take a timeout at the 6:01 mark. After cutting the lead to seven, Georgetown proceeded to go on a 13-4 run to take a 34-18 lead into the locker room. Florida shot a mere 20.8 percent from the field and did not make a shot from outside in opening half.

“We had a lot of adversity in November, handling injuries and people who weren't available to us. Going into December, we were still a couple of folks down, but we adjusted to that,” Butler said. “Going into January, we're going to face the toughest competition night-in and night-out, here and on the road. It's what our conference represents — it's the best top-to-bottom and we want to feel ready for that.”

Florida will head into conference play with a 10-3 record after capping off a perfect 6-0 December.

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