Gator Women Hoops Down Tennessee State
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Kayla Lewis (Decatur, Ga.) and Christin Mercer (Douglasville, Ga.) both charted double-doubles and Florida defeated Tennessee State, 86-56, in the first round of the 23rd Annual Gator Holiday Classic played at the O’Connell Center Friday evening.
The Gators will play FIU in the championship game on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Panthers defeated La Salle, 84-58, in their opening round game, as senior guard Jerica Coley, who led the nation in scoring last year, dropped in 33 points in Friday’s victory. The Lady Tigers and Explorers will meet in the third-place game at 4:30 p.m.
Florida opened up the 2013 Gator Holiday Classic with a physical 86-56 victory over Tennessee State as Kayla Lewis led the Gators from the opening tip, registering her second consecutive double-double in 24 minutes of play.
Lewis tallied 19 points on a career-tying 9-11 shooting and 13 rebounds, with 13 points and 12 rebounds coming in the first half alone as she needed just 24 minutes to register her second consecutive double-double. The junior left the game with 9:18 to play after falling hard when she was fouled skiing for a defensive rebound, but with Florida’s significant second-half lead she was not needed to reenter the contest.
Florida opened the game on a 15-2 run that saw baskets from six different Gators. Florida’s first-half lead reached 20 before heading to the locker room up 43-29. Behind a strong second-half effort from Mercer and Cassie Peoples (San Antonio, Texas) after Lewis went down, the Gators outscored the Lady Tigers 43-27 in the second half.
Mercer enjoyed a career night off the bench, tying her career high with 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Mercer’s performance was her second double-double of the season and third of her career. Peoples chipped in 16 points and five assists and Carlie Needles (Highlands Ranch, Col.) added 10 points off the bench.
The Gators shot 50 percent from the field, improving to 7-1 on the year when hitting at least 40 percent. UF also improved to 9-0 when topping 70 points.
For the eighth time of the season, every Gator that dressed out scored. Florida is now 3-0 all-time against Tennessee State. UF has won seven consecutive games in the Gator Holiday Classic and will go for its fourth consecutive GHC crown.
· Kayla Lewis led all scorers with 19 points and added 13 rebounds for her second double-double of the season, second consecutive and fifth of her career. This marked Lewis’ fifth double-figure scoring game of the season and 21st of her career as well as her fifth double-digit rebounding game of the season and 10th of her career.
· Cassie Peoples cranked out her sixth double-digit scoring game of the season and career. Peoples finished with 16 points on 6-10 shooting.
· Christin Mercer notched 18 points on 5-8 shooting for her third double-digit game of the season and ninth of her career.
· Carlie Needles recorded 10 points for her fourth double-digit game of the season and 10th of her career at UF.
By the Numbers
· Florida moves to 3-0 on the year when four Gators score in double figures.
· The Gators forced 24 turnovers, and are now 8-2 when the opponent turns the ball over 17 or more times.
· Florida scored 20 points off turnovers. This marked the seventh time this year that the Gators have scored 20+ points off turnovers.
· Florida outrebounded TSU by a margin of 47-40. The Gators are now 5-2 when outrebounding their opponent.
· UF connected on five three-point shots, moving to 6-2 on the year when knocking down at least five three’s.
· The Gators went to the line 36 times, and are now 7-3 on the year when attempting 20 or more free throws.
· UF distributed the ball well, as seven of eight Gators recorded an assist. Florida totaled 20 assists compared to 21 turnovers.
· UF’s bench contributed 30 points.
Individual Numbers of Note
Lewis’s 19th point of the game was the 500th point of her career.
· Mercer made a career-high eight free throws on 10 attempts. Mercer’s previous career best was four.
· With five assists, Jaterra Bonds is now four shy of 375 career assists.
· With four points, Lily Svete is now three shy of 400 career points.
· Needles’s first-half three-pointer represented the 109th consecutive game a Florida player has made a three.
· Mercer scored her 300th career point on a layup with 1:38 left in the first half.
· Lewis hit her first three-pointer of the season
· Bonds brought down five boards, to give her 353 career rebounds.
Gator Starting ‘5’
· Senior Jaterra Bonds started her 81st straight game; 94th of her career.
· Junior Kayla Lewis started her 11th straight game; 39th of career.
· Sophomore January Miller started her 12th career game.
· Senior Lily Svete started her 26th straight game; 44th of her career.
· Sophomore Cassie Peoples started her third career game.
· With the combination of Svete, Miller, Bonds, Peoples and Lewis, Florida has now used five different starting lineups in just 11 games this season.
Updated Records: Florida 8-3 … Tennessee State 3-9
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