UF women open SEC against Miss. State
Published: Wednesday, January 1, 2014 at 11:45 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 1, 2014 at 11:45 p.m.
The Florida women's basketball team is riding some serious momentum going into tonight's opening SEC game against Mississippi State in the O'Connell Center at 7.
Who: Mississippi St. (13-1) at Florida (10-3)
When: 7 p.m.
TV: SunSports (Cox channel 48)
The Gators (10-3) are not only in the midst of a six-game winning streak, but were undefeated in December for the first time since the 2008-09 season, capped by a come-from-behind, 67-65 overtime win over Georgetown last Saturday in which UF trailed by 16 points, 34-18, at the half.
“We feel tested,” said coach Amanda Butler, now in her seventh season at Florida. “We had a very difficult November. We had a lot of adversity with 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. We had big games from different players almost every single night.”
Nobody had a bigger night against the Hoyas than senior guard Jaterra Bonds. The former P. K. Yonge standout scored a career-high 26 points, including a clutch three-point play off the opening tip of overtime that gave Florida its first lead at 61-58.
Bonds was 8-of-13 from the field, 10-of-13 from the free throw line, had a team-high five assists and tied for team-high marks in rebounds (six) and steals (three).
She was rewarded by being named the SEC Player of the Week for the first time in her career.
“We had different contributions from everybody,” Bonds said. “When you see your team clicking and putting things together, especially when you're going into the next phase of the season which is about to be the SEC, it feels good to be improving and getting better, getting to the place where you need to be in order to perform at a higher level.”
UF would love to kick-start its SEC slate with a win tonight, but it won't be easy. The Bulldogs (13-1), who also have won six straight, are off to their best start in program history and have already equaled their win total from last season.
“We're going to face the toughest competition night-in and night-out, here and on the road, because that's what our conference represents,” Butler said. “It's the best hands-down, top-to-bottom, and we feel ready for that.”