No Senior Day Magic, Gators Fall to Texas A&M
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Senior Jaterra Bonds (Gainesville, Fla.) 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. 17/16 Aggies took the 83-72 decision in the O’Connell Center on Sunday in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Texas A&M 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 then Bonds converted a layup and sparked a 10-3 run, as Carlie Needles (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) drained back-to-back three-pointers on UF’s offensive possessions and Kayla Lewis (Decatur, Ga.) took a nice feed inside from Cassie Peoples (San Antonio, Texas) to finish the spurt with the Gators trailing just 52-50 with 10:42 to go.
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 (Jacksonville, Fla.) nailed a three-pointer at the 2:34 mark and had the Gators 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.
VIDEO: POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE with UF Head Coach Amanda Butler, Jaterra Bonds, Lily Svete and Carlie Needles - http://www.gatorvision.tv/mediaPortal/player.dbml?id=3214313&db_oem_id=6500
Slow Second Half Start
· Florida committed three turnovers in the first 1:45 of the second half and missed its first three field goal attempts, while the Aggies corralled a pair of offensive rebounds and got four points as a result en route to an eight-point lead, 42-34, with 17:38 remaining.
Tight First Half
· There were six lead changes and two tied scores in the first half, with TAMU taking a 35-34 halftime lead.
· The Aggies led by as many as eight points with 11:09 remaining in the first half.
· The Gators used a 12-4 run over a 4:38 span late in the half and took a 28-27 lead with 3:35 to go.
· In the final 3:36 of the half there were four lead changes and two tied scores, as UF went 2-4 from the free throw line in the final 51 seconds.
· Jaterra Bonds led all first-half scorers with 15 points (5-7 FG, 4-4 FT)
· UF shot 52 percent (13-25) in the first half, while TAMU hit 43.8 percent (14-32)
Updated Records: Florida 18-11, 8-8 SEC … Texas A&M 23-6, 14-2 SEC
· Jaterra Bonds scored in double-figures for the 24th time this year and 80th in career.
· Carlie Needles scored 13 points and registered double digit points for the first time scoring 16 points against Alabama on Jan. 30. Needles has seven 10-point plus efforts this season and 13 in her career.
· Cassie Peoples finished with 11 points and in double-figures for the 14th times this year and in her career.
· Kayla Lewis scored 16 points and was in double-figures for the 17th time this year and 33rd in career.
· Seniors Jaterra Bonds & Lily Svete played in the 133rd game of their respective careers, which no ranks No. 2 in UF history (No. 1 is 135 by Jennifer George, 2009-13).
Moving on Up
· Bonds finished the game with 18 points and a career total of 1,545 points and moved up two spots on UF’s all-time scoring chart into ninth place.
Starting Again and Again and Again
· Jaterra Bonds started her 99th consecutive game, the third longest streak in program history (No. 2 is 109 by Murriel Page, 1994-98).
· Bonds started the 112th game of her career, which places her in sole possession of fifth all-time in UF history (No. 4 is 115 by Talatha Bingham, 1996-99).
Streaks and Stuff
· Jaterra Bonds scored in her 54th consecutive game, the longest active streak on the team.
· The Gators connected on a three-pointer for the 127th consecutive game.
· The Gators fall to 17-5 when shooting at least 40 percent from the floor.
· UF is now 1-4 when the opponent scores in the 80’s.
· The Gators are now 12-5 when making five or more three-point shots. They made eight today.
Post Game Quotes:
UF Head Coach Amanda Butler
“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. There were a few things that were tough to overcome. 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.”
On positives from the game…
“I think the way we battled back. We overcame two really slow starts in both halves. You learn some lessons in that too. That is something that we already know, but it is something that is magnified by a billion as you go into the postseason. How you start the ball game really sets the tone. Despite that, I still feel we put ourselves in position to be where we wanted to be with a great deal of fight and some play making. I felt that Carlie (Needles) was positive in the way she played. When Jaterra (Bonds) was out there, she was really hard to guard. I thought Kayla (Lewis) battled hard on the boards and in the paint in a way where we are going to have to have her battle every night as we get into the tournament. I think there is a long list of positives. That is what we are going to choose to dwell on.”
On the importance of the SEC Tournament heading into the postseason
“Every time that you get a chance to play it is important. I think that our team understands that. As much as we are aware of that, our focus is on the SEC tournament. There is not any reason to put the cart before the horse. We’ve got a game to play this week that I am assuming will be on Thursday. We don’t know against who yet, but that is the most important thing. I think that one of the things that has made this team special all year is that they have done a great job of keeping everything in order. The way that they think about things and focus, it is always about what is next, not about what is next that will set us up for what is after. It is always what is right in front of us and what do we need to do get ready for that.”
UF Sophomore Guard Carlie Needles
On the seniors…
“These two really demonstrated great leadership for our team this year. Lily works hard on and off of the court. Being a doctor and being a D1 athlete is almost unheard of. I look up to her in that aspect. The hard work ethic. JT is a point guard, and I’m a point guard. I came in here and she took me under her wing from day one. I appreciate that a lot. She really taught me a lot. I’ll miss them a lot too. We really wanted to win today for them, but we still have the tournament and that is the best thing.”
On the three-point shooting…
“Threes isn’t something that we really look for, but it is definitely an energy booster. We always say that we love layups and we like threes. Obviously, when we hit a couple of threes it is really exciting. Seeing JT go down my first reaction was if we don’t get her back, I want to get this for her. So really, those threes were for her. I just wish we had a better outcome.”
UF Senior Guard Jaterra Bonds
On playing in Gainesville her whole career…
“It has been crazy. I’ve had so much support. We have Gator Nation, which is just the best fans. And then you have your family and your friends here to cheer you on. It is just a feeling I can’t really explain. It is just exciting and a warming feeling at the same time.”
On seeing her high school teammates in attendance…
“It took me back down memory lane. I’m still friends with a lot of people from my high school team. A few of them were here today. It is good to see that they still support me and what I love to do.”
UF Senior Forward Lily Svete
On playing on senior day and moving on to the SEC tournament…
“Obviously, we wanted to win on Senior Day. I’m mad that we didn’t, as is everyone else on the team. But we have a lot of games left to play and we just want to take the next step and stay positive.”
On fighting an ‘uphill battle’ and how it will help going forward…
“I feel like throughout the season there has been something that we needed to overcome. It just kind of feels routine. What is next? What is going to happen that is going to be bad? Its fine, we’ll deal with it and figure out how to win. That is just how we are approaching it.”
Texas A&M Head Coach Gary Blair
“It was a great ballgame. On senior day it’s tough to win at anybody’s facilities but I think the difference in the ballgame was we continually held the lead in the first half even when we were not playing our best and we were in a lot of foul trouble. They called it real tight early, Williams for them got two quick fouls and all my guards were in foul trouble but Jordan (Jones) played the whole second half without getting a foul. I thought Tori Scott’s defense on Bonds was tremendous. Bonds is always going to try to score and what you want to do is try to hold her down. She’s a great player, one of the top-10 in our league, first-teamers. ”
On Florida’s play:
“Florida has done a tremendous job all year with their injuries and transfers and everything that has gone wrong. Amanda (Butler) should get a lot of votes for Coach of the Year because I think she’s done a tremendous job. You don’t know how hard it is when basically she loses three starters and she’s doing it with a volleyball player or somebody like that coming off the bench. But give them credit, they’re going to NCAA Tournament, they have eight wins and they’ll do fine if they can get hot and if they can get Bonds and Peoples both hot at the same time.”
Texas A&M Senior Karla Gilbert
On answering Florida’s run into the half:
“I felt like it was very important to stay on top. This is the last game of the regular season so wherever we go from here, this is what we’re building off of. After this game everything is one-and-done so it was important that we stayed ahead and kept stretching it.”
2014 SEC Tournament held in Duluth, Ga., March 5-9
Updated seedings and the 14-team bracket will be announced later today
For all of the latest information on Florida women’s basketball:
Official Website: www.gatorzone.com/basketball/women
Twitter: @GatorZoneWBK and @CoachButlerUF
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