Gator Women's Hoops Down Miss. St in SEC Opener
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Behind an impressive 23-point effort from Cassie Peoples and three other double-figure-scoring Gators, the University of Florida women’s basketball team opened Southeastern Conference play with an 82-72 victory over Mississippi State on Thursday night at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
Jaterra Bonds scored 18 points, Christin Mercer added 12 and January Miller notched her first career double-double with 12 points and a career-high 10 boards.
After Mississippi State took its only lead of the game, 9-7, Florida answered with an 11-3 surge and never looked back. The run put UF up 18-12, lasted 2:41, saw four Gators score and included Bonds’ 100th career three-pointer. The teams traded baskets for the following 6:23 before Carlie Needles sank two shots from the charity stripe to spark a 6-0 Gators spurt that lasted 1:44 and gave Florida its first double-digit lead of the game, 34-23. UF entered the locker room with a 40-30 advantage off of a last-second layup by Mercer.
Florida outscored Mississippi State off turnovers (17-6), with second chance points (13-4) and off the fast break (12-0) in the first half. The Gators shot a highly effective 46.9 percent from the field, compared to the Bulldogs’ 38.7 percent.
The Gators led by double-digits for most of the second half, including a 17-point lead, 72-55, with 4:16 left on the clock. The Bulldogs looked to rally late with a 15-6 run that lasted 3:29 and brought the score to 78-70 with just 47 seconds remaining. However, the damage was already done and it was too much for Mississippi State to overcome. Florida connected on all four of its final-minute free throws en route to the team’s seventh consecutive win.
UF used a very balanced offense throughout the game, connecting on 46.8 percent (29-62) of its shots, while holding Mississippi State to 34.3 percent (24-70). However, the Bulldogs connected on 33.3 percent (6-18) of their shots from behind the arc, compared to the Gators’ 20 percent (2-10). Florida out-rebounded Mississippi State, 47-43, marking the sixth time Florida has won the rebounding battle this season.
· Florida 11-3, 1-0 SEC
· Mississippi State 13-2, 0-1 SEC
· With the SEC-opening win, Florida now carries a 24-18 series advantage against Mississippi State and extended its winning streak against the Lady Bulldogs to eight
Numbers of Note:
· The Gators now boast a 9-0 record when leading at the half this season.
· Redshirt sophomore Cassie Peoples led both teams on the court tonight, putting up 23 points on Mississippi State. This is the second 20-point game and ninth double-digit effort of her career.
· With 18 points, senior Jaterra Bonds had her 12th double-figure scoring game of the season and the 68th of her career.
· Sophomore Christin Mercer tallied 12 points en route to her fourth double-digit game of the year and 10th of her career.
· Sophomore January Miller’s 12 points were good enough for her 10th double-figure game of the season and 17th of her career. Miller’s career-high 10 rebounds accounted for her first double-double and first double-digit rebounding effort of her career.
· Jaterra Bonds became the 11th different Gator in program history to connect on 100 career three-pointers
Streaks of Note:
· UF won its seventh consecutive game; last time Gators won seven straight was during the 2008-09 season
· MSU had its six-game winning streak snapped
· Cassie Peoples produced a double-figure scoring effort for the seventh straight game
· Jaterra Bonds started her 84th consecutive game; 97th overall start of career
· January Miller scored in her team-leading 43rd consecutive game
Quotes from the Court:
Florida Head Coach Amanda Butler
“I’m really proud of the way that we played. I liked the start to both halves, and that is very important to our team. For the most part we played with a lot of composure. I am sure there are a lot of things that we will discover when we go back and watch the film that we should have done a little cleaner or a little better with a higher level of intensity, but overall, we beat a very good team tonight. Winning the rebounding battle, I am really proud of that. Like I said, we showed a great deal of composure, which was one of our game goals.”
On getting off to a good start in the SEC:
“It is huge. That is what I said to the team. I think the last three or four minutes of the game didn’t feel like we wanted it to because we kept putting them on the free throw line and prolonging the game. I said guys, ‘we need to get really excited. It is hard to win games in this league.’ I don’t care what the opponents name is on their jersey or where you are playing. You’ve got to take great pride whenever you beat another SEC opponent. It is fantastic momentum for us. We need to springboard and use that momentum because we have a great challenge on Sunday and a great opportunity ahead of us.”
On containing Mississippi State’s Martha Alwal:
“I think that her coach was disappointed as well because there were some moments when she wasn’t in the game. It makes it easy to make the numbers look like that when your coach gets mad at you and puts you on the bench or whatever was going on with their team. She certainly is one of their really important cogs. It was also a game changer the fouls, (Kendra) Grant getting in foul trouble. It is something that we need to adjust, too. It is not an anomaly or something special. This is the way the game is going to be called; we’ve got to make the adjustments. I am really proud of the way we played her, no question.”
On the play of January Miller:
“I thought that January showed tremendous fight in the way that she rebounded. We really needed that. You mentioned Alwal earlier, and when you have a player like that on the floor, you can’t just expect the post players to handle their business. That is a tough matchup. You’ve got to get help from somewhere. I thought that Jan really shouldered a lot of that rebounding burden tonight. She did it in a very aggressive January way. She just went and got the ball. I think that all and all we’ve got to have more consistency in how we box out. But no question, she gave us a rebounding spark.”
Florida Guard Cassie Peoples
On the guard play:
“For the guards, we just wanted to get things started on the defensive end. I think we did a good job of starting off. I think we started off with a steal. I think our defense set the tone for us. We did a really good job of pressuring the ball.”
Florida Guard Jaterra Bonds
On Mississippi State’s reputation for forcing turnovers:
“I didn’t know that was the case, but we force a lot of turnovers, too. I know we’ve had games where we’ve forced over 30 turnovers. You’ve just got to stay composed and stay with your game plan. You can’t get flustered with their pressure.”
Mississippi State’s Head Coach Vic Schaefer
On his thoughts on tonight’s game:
“I thought we lost the game at the guard position. We certainly didn’t get anything out of Martha (Alwal) inside, and I thought they did a great job neutralizing her, but their guards were really good and that’s where their advantage was. (Cassie) Peoples and Jaterra (Bonds) were really good and then you’ve got to throw (January) Miller in there. Those kids, they go 15-of-20 for 41 so that’s where they scored, at the one, two, and three and their four and five went one-for-four; you bring (Christin) Mercer out of the bench and she goes 6-for-12. We couldn’t get over the hump; every time we’d have a chance to get it back under ten, we’d miss the one-and-one, we’d miss two shots and we had two possessions in a row where we wasted them and didn’t get to score when we had it to ten.
“Again, young, immature, inexperienced basketball team on the road in the SEC, and we played absolutely awful and only lost by ten. Played them dead even in the second half and I don’t know how we scored 42 points. I’m going to lose my mind if we give up 82 points every night; I don’t like that as a defensive guy. But I was proud of some of our kids because I thought they really fought all night long and competed. Dominique (Dillingham), JJ (Jerica James); I thought the played well. Bree (Breanna Richardson) didn’t play well but she competed. I’m proud of our team for fighting and for the most part, I thought we did have maybe one or two who were tired there at the end and didn’t want anymore, but that’s part of having an immature team.”
Scores of Other SEC Games:
#6 Kentucky d. ALABAMA, 85-63
Missouri d. OLE MISS, 85-76
#16 LSU d. #5 TENNESSEE, 80-77
#13 South Carolina d. ARKANSAS, 55-51
VANDERBILT d. #19 Georgia, 66-58
TEXAS A&M d. UTEP, 74-58
Next Up for the Gators:
Florida (11-3, 1-0 SEC) at #6 Kentucky (13-1, 1-0 SEC)
Memorial Coliseum (8,000) * Lexington, Ky.
Sun., January 5 * 3 p.m. ET
Game Coverage & More!
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· Television: CSS/CoxSports Comcast Sports Southeast; Cox Sports airs on Ch. 259/1259 on Cox Communications in Gainesville with Matt Stewart and TBA
· Internet Video: ESPN3.com
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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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