Gator Women Fall to Georgia After Slow Second Half
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Despite Jaterra Bonds leading a trio of Gators in double-figure scoring, Florida was unable to hold off Georgia’s furious second-half rally and lost 68-62 Saturday in the O’Connell Center.
The Gators led for the first 31:26 of the game and by as many as 10 points with 7:32 remaining in the first half, but Georgia’s Krista Donald tied the game at 43 with 10:52 left and there were two tied scores and three lead changes the rest of they way.
Freshman Ronni Williams, who finished with eight points and a team-high eight rebounds, and Lewis kept the Gators in front by scoring a quick four points, but Georgia answered with a layup and a three-pointer from Khaalidah Miller with 8:34 that gave the Dawgs their first lead of the game, 48-47.
Williams hit a jumper inside and swung the lead back in Florida’s favor, but Erika Ford, who finished with a game-high 23 points, converted a layup and drilled one of UG’s eight treys that gave the visitors a four-point lead, 53-49, with 6:51 to play.
Florida fought back and tied the game with a pair of free throws from Kayla Lewis, who scored 10 points, and an inside shot from Cassie Peoples.
Georgia, however, scored the next four points and would never trail again, hitting 11-of-12 free throws in the final 5:34 of the game to seal the outcome. The Bulldogs entered the game converting just 59 percent of their free throw attempts, but nailed 16-of-18 on Sunday.
The Gators did manage to get within two points, 64-62, as late as 46 seconds remaining and held possession, but couldn’t take advantage, as Georgia continued to dominate the boards, winning the rebound battle, 47-27.
January Miller and Kayla Lewis joined Bonds in double-figure scoring for Florida with 11 and 10 points, respectively, while Bonds scored 16 points.
The Gators scored the first seven points of the game with Miller, Lily Svete and Bonds contributing to the quick start. It was the Lady Bulldogs’ two free throws with 17:49 to go in the first half that put them on the board.
Florida responded right away as Bonds’ shot from beyond the arc gave the Gators the 10-2 advantage with 17:25 left in the period. Georgia’s Krista Donald had a three-pointer of her own, closing the gap to a five-point game.
As both teams traded shots for the next few minutes, the Lady Bulldogs were able to cut Florida’s lead to six points. But a pair of shots from the charity stripe by Bonds and layups by Williams and Lewis opened it up for the Gators again giving them a 20-12 lead with 8:10 to play in the first half.
The Gators never trailed in the first half, leading by as many as 10 after a free throw by Carlie Needles with 1:46 left put them up 30-20, but a pair of layups, including one at the buzzer, from the Lady Bulldogs closed the margin to 30-24 heading into the locker room.
· Georgia’s Khaalidah Miller’s 3-pointer with 8:34 gave Georgia a 48-47 lead and put the Lady Bulldogs ahead for the first time in the contest. Miller scored all of her 13 points in the second half.
Numbers of Note
· Jaterra Bonds’ three from the corner at the 17:25 mark of the first half marked the 116th game in row that the Gators have hit a three-point shot.
· 59 days: Antoinette Bannister played for the first time since Nov. 21 against Florida State. Bannister scored at the 2:13 mark of the first half, her first points since the Gators win over Kennesaw State on Nov. 17.
· The Gators forced Georgia into 18 first-half turnovers and held the Bulldogs to 32 percent shooting from the field. Florida also notched nine steals in the opening half.
· Florida led 30-24 at halftime and moves to 10-1 on the year when leading at the half.
· For the 12th time this season, every Gator who dressed for the game, scored at least a point.
· Florida is now 6-3 in games decided by 10 points or less. Four of UF’s five SEC games have been decided by 10 points or less; the Gators are 3-1 in these SEC games.
· The Gators move to 7-4 when their opponent his five or more threes. The Bulldogs hit eight from downtown.
· Georgia was 16-18 from the free throw line. The Gators shot 84.5 percent from the free throw line. UF made 11 of 13 attempts.
· The Bulldogs outrebounded Florida, 47-27.
· Ronni Williams played an SEC career-high 25 minutes. (23 minutes previous high). The freshman scored eight points and brought down eight rebounds.
· Cassie Peoples dished out an SEC career-high six assists. People’s career-high for assists in a game is eight set earlier this year against Kennesaw State.
· Bonds tallied 16 points, marking the seventh straight game and 16th time overall that the senior has scored in double figures. Bonds has now scored in double figures 72 times in her career.
· January Miller notched double-figure points for the 13th time this season and the 21st time of her career.
· Kayla Lewis scored in double figures for the seventh time this year and the 23rd time of her career.
· Jaterra Bonds’ made free throw streak ended at 15 on her first attempt of the game. Bonds went a perfect seven-for-seven after the early miss.
· Carlie Needles and Kayla Lewis have now each made eight straight free throws.
· Bonds scored in double-figures for the seventh straight game.
· January Miller scored for the 47th consecutive game, longest active streak on the team.
· Gators used the starting five of Lily Svete, Kayla Lewis, Jaterra Bonds, Cassie Peoples and January Miller for the eighth consecutive game.
· Bonds started the 101st game of her career; 88th consecutive start.
· Svete started the 51st game of her career; 33rd consecutive start.
· Lewis started the 46th game of her career, including every game this season.
Updated Records: Florida 13-5, 3-2 SEC … Georgia 14-5, 2-4 SEC
Quotes from the Court
Florida Head Coach Amanda Butler
“Obviously, we’re very disappointed in the way we played in the second half and the way that we rebounded the entire game, but that’s just our battle to fight. You have to give Georgia a lot of credit for the way they played, the way they shot the ball. They did some things that were a little bit outside of their scouting report and what they’ve done to this point. You have to give them a lot of credit for hitting big shots, making plays and taking advantage of the things where we had weaknesses where they were very strong. For us, which is what we’re most concerned with, we just need to put together 40 minutes of tough play with no gaps in that toughness. Nobody is going to play flawless, but we’ve got to have a lot more battle and a lot more heart and the way we pursue the ball is really, really important. But, you’re also playing in the SEC, in the best league in the country and you don’t have much time to sit around and cry about this one because there’s another big one that’s coming. That’s just life and this time of year.”
On the difficulties they dealt with today:
“We didn’t start well the second half. Right out of the locker room, Khaalidah [Miller], their senior, had not played a lot of minutes in the first half and didn’t score in the first half – that was one of the things we talked about in the locker room. You know, she’s going to come out here with her hair on fire trying to make a difference and she hit the first 3 of the half. So, it was just things like that – not getting out quickly and not paying attention to the things that we need to do to make ourselves a good team. When you don’t do that, you leave the door open for whoever your opponent is. Just little things here and there – that was certainly a really big part of it. We gave up way too many points, but a lot of that was from the 3-point line and also second chances.”
On what the team needed to work on:
“I don’t think we went in thinking that we needed to work on a lot of things. I was very disappointed in the way we went into the half – we have the ball that last possession, we called a timeout, we get two shots, basically in the paint, and we don’t hit either one of them and then they race right down and close out the half with a layup. I thought that was just not indicative of us and the way that we play and the way we would have managed that last whatever it was, 22-23 seconds, but I don’t think that had anything to do with emotion. I don’t think it had anything to do with the way we started slowing in the second half.”
On having Antoinette Bannister back on the court:
“I think it was great for us. The thing about Antoinette is that she’s not just a player to give us depth, she’s a player that we expect to make plays, hit shots and guard folks. I think nine really solid minutes is something to definitely build on. It was a great performance for her first time back out there and there are just so many things that when you have not actually played for as many weeks as she has, timing and a lot of different things, you have to get back in sync and I look forward to seeing that happen with her. Her continuing to just gain confidence and make the plays that really separate her from other people on our team and finding her space to be unique in.”
“We’re obviously giving up a little bit of size and that’s what makes the box outs that much more important. Winning the rebounding battle is important, but as long as it’s close, it’s always going to swing one way or the other … I was just really disappointed. I thought there were a lot of hustle-play balls, long rebounds and things like that that we could have tracked down. They did a really good job of converting those balls into points. That’s something that we put in the category of preventable plays. I thought there were a lot of preventable plays when they had misses and we didn’t handle our business in that regard.”
On the game plan for the last 25 seconds of the game:
“I was trying to call timeout. Unfortunately, I was not calling for it loud enough. So, Cassie [Peoples] made an aggressive attack. I had been on Cassie the entire game about her tempo and her attack and she went to make an aggressive play, but we would have rather the official have heard me calling for a timeout and then been able to utilize that time to set up a better look.”
UF #10 Guard Jaterra Bonds
On what went wrong in the game:
“I think that toward the end, the most crucial moments, we didn’t adjust in timeouts. Erika Ford had 23 points and we gave up big threes to Khaalidah [Miller]. Ultimately, it was the second-chance points and points off of turnovers. They had 16 points off of turnovers and 22 second-chance points and they killed us in both categories.”
On if being more aggressive would have helped her field goal percentage:
“I think mostly they tried to cut my right hand and pack the paint, but I was just trying not to force too much. I was pretty aggressive the entire game, especially in the second half, but you can’t force and try to go in and play for the five every time. So, if I would have, it would have opened up, so I had to kick it out and that’s something I need to work on.”
Georgia Head Coach Andy Landers
On the difference in the second half:
“We didn’t turn the ball over. Florida came out and jumped on us, and we didn’t handle it well. It affected our pass, catch, timing and shot selection and it led to 18 turnovers in the first half. That was ugly, that was really ugly. The second half we did a much better job of that. By virtue of taking care of the ball, we had opportunities to shoot and score and overcome the lead.”
On making 11-of-12 free throws down the stretch:
“It was about time. Really, it has been costly to us this year, not getting those free throws. Yet, we are good free throw shooters; we really are in practice. It is a piece of being inexperienced in games at this level because we shoot free throws really well in practice. Today we shot them that way in a game. I’m not really surprised. I just think it is about time our kids trusted themselves and their stroke from the free throw line.”
On Florida’s lack of depth and on if it makes it easier to game plan for:
“No, we’ve been there and done that with seven players. We went to the Sweet 16 and maybe even the Elite 8 with seven players. In reality, most people play about eight. We play eight. That’s what we do, it is what it is. Where it affects you the most, Florida is unfortunate but fortunate that it happened late in the season, because where seven players effects the most is that you can’t practice. By virtue of it happening in January, you’ve already gotten your stuff in and your kids already have a sense of how to play. Practice is always important, but now you’re just game planning, scheming and getting ready for the next opponent. It affects you in practice more than it affects you in a game.”
Florida’s Next Game:
Florida (13-5, 3-2 SEC) at #12/10 Tennessee (14-3, 3-2 SEC)
Thompson-Boling Arena (21,678) * Knoxville, Tenn.
Thurs., January 23 * 6:30 p.m. ET
*Tennessee hosts Notre Dame on Mon., Jan. 20 prior to Thursday’s game
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