Svete, Needles lead UF past Tide
Published: Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 31, 2014 at 12:16 a.m.
For the second straight game, the Florida Gators parlayed some great individual performances and an outstanding team effort into a big SEC home win.
Led by strong shooting efforts from senior forward Lily Svete and redshirt sophomore guard Carlie Needles, who combined to score 30 points and between them knocked down 8 of 12 3-pointers, UF downed Alabama, 75-67, Thursday evening before an O'Connell Center crowd of 1,431.
“It was just a game that lacked a lot of flow,” coach Amanda Butler said. “It was really choppy. They made plays, we made plays. The game was never really in hand either way.”
UF (15-6, 5-3) scored the last five points of a back-and-forth first half that featured six lead changes and three ties to take a 37-32 lead into the locker room, then built the lead to 50-41 lead with 13:42 left to play.
The Tide (10-11, 3-5) answered with a 10-2 run to pull within 52-51 with 10:13 remaining, but Svete, who finished with 14 points and seven rebounds, successfully completed the first traditional three-point play of her career less than a minute later, and following an Alabama turnover, Needles buried the fourth of her five 3-pointers to extend UF's lead to seven, 58-51 with 8:24 left.
The Tide never got closer than five points the rest of the way, with the Gators taking their largest lead of the night at 68-57 with 4:33 remaining.
“I just really like our resilience,” Butler said. “I really liked the way when they closed the gap to one, we came right back and made plays, and I think that's the sign of a team with great leadership and, in crucial moments, composure. I'm really, really proud to see that.”
The Gators shot 46.4 percent from the field (25 of 54) and 45 percent from 3-point range (9 of 20), the latter their best mark from beyond the arc since going 10 of 20 against St. Francis on Dec. 17.
Svete, who was 3 of 5 from long range, tied her career high in rebounds and was one point shy of her career high (15) in points, while Needles, who was 5 of 7 from bonus land, finished one point shy of her season high (17) set against LSU.
“I've got to give the credit to my teammates,” Needles said. “I can't shoot those without getting the ball. I felt like we did a really good job of making the extra pass, and the skip passes were really there for us. We've worked on corner 3s a lot, and that's where a lot of the shots came from.”
Redshirt junior Kayla Lewis recorded her fifth straight game in double figures with 14 points while tying Svete for team-high honors with seven rebounds, and freshman Ronni Williams added 11 points. Senior Jaterra Bonds had eight points and added a game-high eight assists, one shy of her career high.
The Tide also placed four players in double figures, led by Shafontaye Myers' game-high 21 points and a 20-point, 10-rebound effort from Ashley Williams.
“We had some folks to do extra with Lily leading us in rebounds tonight and Carlie shooting the ball like we all know she can,” Butler said. “But again, you look at the stat sheet, and there's a lot of double figures all the way down, and we had more assisted baskets than turnovers. Those are things that are indicators of great team ball.”
Next up, UF hits the road for an SEC tilt against Ole Miss at 2 p.m. Sunday.