Gators drop regular season finale to Aggies

Florida earns No. 5 seed for SEC Tournament, plays Thursday

Published: Sunday, March 2, 2014 at 5:53 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, March 2, 2014 at 5:53 p.m.

Senior Jaterra Bonds scored 18 points and led four Gators who recorded a double-figure scoring effort, but 20 turnovers that resulted in 25 points for Texas A&M that ultimately spoiled Florida's Senior Day, as the No. 17 Aggies took the 83-72 decision in the O'Connell Center on Sunday in the regular-season finale for both teams.


Up next

SEC tournament at Duluth, Ga.
WHO: Florida (18-11, 8-8) vs. Missouri (17-12, 6-10) or Mississippi State (18-12, 5-11)
WHEN: Thursday at 2:30 p.m.

Texas A&M (23-6, 14-2 SEC) held a one-point halftime lead and Florida came out slow to start the second half, when the Aggies built an eight-point lead 2:22 into the period. The teams went back and fourth offensively as Florida found itself trailing 49-40 with 14:26 remaining.

That's when Bonds converted a layup and sparked a 10-3 run, as Carlie Needles drained back-to-back three-pointers on UF's offensive possessions and Kayla Lewis took a nice feed inside from Cassie Peoples to finish the spurt with the Gators trailing just 52-50 with 10:42 to go.

“Texas A&M is just a great team. Coach (Gary) Blair does a fantastic job, and obviously had them really ready to come in here and play. I felt like we battled for most of the ballgame," UF coach Amanda Butler said.

Seconds prior to Lewis' bucket, Bonds went down with severe cramping and had to leave the game for the next 6:55, during when Texas A&M capitalize with a 20-13 run and held a 72-61 advantage before Bonds returned to limited capacity. In Bonds' absence, Florida turned the ball over six times.

Antoinette Bannister nailed a three-pointer at the 2:34 mark and had the Gators (18-11, 8-8) back within eight points, 74-66, but Karla Gilbert hit a layup for a 10-point difference and the Aggies made 7-of-8 free throws in the final 1:38 to seal the outcome.

"There were a few things that were tough to overcome," Butler said. "But again, you have to give Texas A&M a lot of credit for making the things that are important to them important in really critical moments. Again, I think there are a lot of positives that we can take away from this game as we move forward to what is next.”

Florida will next play in the SEC Tournament held held at The Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Ga.

The Gators earned the No. 5 seed in the 14-team, 13-game tournament which begins on Wednesday and runs through Sunday.

Florida finished in sole possession of fifth place in the SEC's final regular-season standings.

The Gators received a first-round bye and will play their inaugural game in the tournament on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. against the winner of the game between No. 12-seed Missouri (17-12, 6-10) and No. 13-seed Mississippi State (18-12, 5-11). The Tigers and Bulldogs play on Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Florida lost at home to Missouri, 81-76, on Feb. 20 and defeated Mississippi State in the O'Connell Center, 82-72, on Jan. 2.

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