Florida women's basketball team awaits NCAA fate

Florida coach Amanda Butler talks with guard Cassie Peoples in the first half of the third-round Southeastern Conference women's basketball game against Kentucky last week in Duluth, Ga.

AP Photo/John Bazemore
Published: Monday, March 10, 2014 at 4:21 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 10, 2014 at 4:21 p.m.

The Florida women's basketball team will be doing some fine tuning while getting some well-deserved rest this week as the Gators (19-12), who defeated Mississippi State, 71-67, in their SEC Tournament opener before dropping a hard-fought, 75-70 decision to No. 12 and eventual tourney runner-up Kentucky in the quarterfinals, await their official postseason fate.

“To have been part of what was the best conference tournament in the country this past weekend was a great experience for our team,” coach Amanda Butler said. “We certainly did not finish where we wanted to, but there were certainly a lot of positives to draw from the competition.”

The Gators are looking to pick up their third NCAA bid (2009, 2012) under Butler after a fifth-place SEC regular-season finish this season, their best in five years.

The NCAA Women's Tournament selection show airs Monday, March 17, at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

“I think our team is pretty confident and I'm confident that we're in the tournament,” Butler said. “I don't think there's any question when you finish in the top five in our league and have the significant RPI wins that we did.”


Coming off a tremendous Senior Night performance Friday in which the Gators posted a score of 198.325 in defeating West Virginia, a mark that is the highest in the nation this year and ranks No. 3 all-time in program history, No. 3 UF (8-1, 5-1) caps the regular season with an SEC road meet at Missouri (6-6, 0-5) at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

“We're looking forward to going there for our last regular-season competition before we get prepared for SECs (March 22 in Birmingham),” coach Rhonda Faehn said. “I feel like Friday night's competition was definitely the step that we were looking for as far as getting our athletes prepared for postseason.”


Coming off a strong performance at the 2014 SEC Indoor Championships where the women captured the title and the men were runner-up to Arkansas, both UF teams are headed for the 2014 NCAA Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, N.M., Friday and Saturday.

Both squads enter nationals ranked No. 1 in the nation.

“I feel like both teams have a very good chance to do well,” coach Mike Holloway said. “We're just going to go in there and do what we do every day, compete at a high level with a lot of pride and passion and just see what happens at the end of the day.”


The No. 8 UF women's team is gearing up for the 2014 NCAA Championships in Minneapolis, Minn., March 20-22.

The Gators, who won the 2010 NCAA title, have already qualified 14 swimmers for this year's event, but are hoping to qualify one or more divers as well at the NCAA Diving Zone Championships in Greensboro, N.C., that began Monday and end Wednesday.

“We've got three good female divers, so we feel like if we get one of them, maybe two of them, to qualify for the meet, it would have a good impact.” coach Gregg Troy said.


After leveling their SEC slate with a come-from-behind, 4-2 win over South Carolina on Sunday, the No. 26 Gators (5-6, 1-1) continue their current five-match homestand by hosting Tennessee and Georgia this weekend.

UF faces the No. 13 Vols (12-5, 1-2) Friday at 5 p.m. and the No. 16 Bulldogs (7-5, 3-0) Sunday afternoon at 1.

“It's nice to be able to be at home,” coach Bryan Shelton said. “Last year, we were the road warriors, so it kind of flipped this year because we're able to play at home more.”


The No. 2 Gators (11-2, 3-0), in the midst of playing five consecutive SEC road matches, will travel to face two of their biggest league rivals when they face Tennessee (4-6, 0-2) Friday at 4 p.m. and No. 11 Georgia (8-2, 2-0) Sunday at 1 p.m.

UF is coming off a 4-0 win at South Carolina on Saturday.

“Playing at both these places, the crowds are going to be large, and they don't like the Gators very much,” coach Roland Thornqvist said. “We are ready.”


UF (7-1, 1-0 ALC), up to No. 4 this week in the IWLCA poll, will carry a seven-match winning streak into Wednesday's home match against Winthrop (2-3) at 6:30 p.m before facing a stern road test at No. 2 Syracuse (6-0) in the Carrier Dome at noon Saturday.

“It's a huge challenge for us,” coach Amanda O' Leary said of facing the Orange. “They are an exceptional lacrosse team. They're number two in the country, and it's a well-deserved number two.”


The No. 17 Gators will compete at home for the only time this season when they host the 42nd edition of the annual SunTrust Invitational on Friday through Sunday at the Mark Bostick Golf Course.

“We're working hard and getting ready to play a golf course that we're familiar with and play week-in and week-out,” coach Emily Glaser said. “It's a real feel-good week for us.”

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