Gator Women Drop Game to Missouri at Home
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Florida actually made three more field goals than Missouri, but the Tigers drilled 12 three-pointers to the Gator’s four en route to an 81-76 win in the O’Connell CenterThursday evening.
Morgan Eye scored 17 of her 20 points in the second half when she connected on five of her six three-pointers and helped Missouri overcome a four-point halftime deficit and outscore the Gators, 51-42.
Redshirt junior Kayla Lewis led Florida with 20 points and 10 rebounds for her eighth double-double of the season and 10th of her career, but the Gators watched the nation’s fourth-ranked three-point shooting team hit 12-of-25 from deep, including 8-11 in the pivotal second half.
Senior Jaterra Bonds and redshirt sophomore Cassie Peoples also contributed with double-figure scoring games for Florida, scoring 16 and 11, respectively.
With the Gators holding a 57-53 lead with 10:28 remaining, Eye hit a trey and sparked a 19-7 run over a 5:25 span that gave the Tigers a 72-64 lead.
The Gators fought back with an 8-0 run and tied the game at 72 with 2:37 remaining in the game.
The Tigers converted 7-of-10 free throws during the final 2:37 and prevented Florida from tying or taking the lead again.
The Gators, who shot 50 percent (30-60) from the floor during the game, came within one point, 75-74, after Ronni Williams hit a tough driving layup with 62 seconds remaining.
The Tigers took their time on the ensuing offensive possession, as Eye canned a jumper with 37 seconds left.
Florida brought the ball over the halfcourt line and called a timeout, but the Gators turned the ball over on the inbounds play and were forced to foul.
January Miller put back a tough offensive rebound and had the Gators within two points, 78-76, with 19 seconds remaining.
UF then fouled and MU, the SEC’s second-best free throw shooting team, made both attempts from the stripe for an 80-76 lead and 18 ticks left. The Gators, however, turned the ball over again and the Tigers sealed the game by hitting one more free throw to end the game’s scoring.
Updated Records: Florida 17-9, 7-6 SEC… Missouri 16-10, 5-8 SEC
VIDEO – Postgame Press Conference:
· There were seven lead changes and seven tied scores in the game.
· Nine of UF’s 12 SEC games have been decided by 10 points or less (5-4 record)
· 14 of UF’s games have been decided by 10 points or less (8-6 record)
· The five-point loss matched the smallest margin of defeat for the Gators this year (55-49 at Arkansas on Feb. 6 and 68-62 vs. Georgia on Jan. 19).
· Florida is now 14-2 on the year when leading at the half.
· Missouri’s 12 three-pointers were the most by an opponent since Vanderbilt’s 13 on Feb. 12, 2009.
· Missouri improved to 2-0 all-time vs. UF.
· Redshirt junior Kayla Lewis recorded her second 20-point game of the year and third of career.
· Lewis grabbed 10 boards as well to mark her eighth double-double of the season and 10th of her career
· Lewis’ effort was her 30th career double-figure scoring game, and the 14th this year.
· Senior Jaterra Bonds was a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity stripe tonight, extending her consecutive free throw streak to 10.
· Morgan Eye scored a team-best 20 points on 6-10 three-pointers
· Sierra Michaelis scored 18 points (4-6 three-pointers) with 11 rebounds and four steals
· Bri Kulas scored 19 points; Jordan Frericks scored 12 points
· Seniors Jaterra Bonds and Lily Svete played in the 130th game of their respective careers and moved into second place in program history
· Kayla Lewis finished with 10 rebounds and has 498 in her career
· Bonds ended the game with five made field goals for 498 in her career
· Carlie Needles connected on a pair of three-pointers and has 98 in her career
First-Half at a Glance
· The first 20 minutes featured six lead changes and four ties.
· UF shot 50 percent (16-32) in the first half, while Missouri hit 34.3 percent (12-35)
· After starting 0-for-5 from beyond the arc, Gators redshirt sophomore Carlie Needles broke the Gators’ dry spell by closing out the half with a 3-pointer at the 1:27 mark.
· Florida redshirt junior Kayla Lewis led all scorers at the half with 12 points, for her 30th career double-figure scoring game, 14th this year
· Missouri held a 24-18 rebounding advantage
· The Gators scored 14 points off of eight MU turnovers.
· Neither team led by more than seven points.
Post game Quotes:
Florida Head Coach Amanda Butler
On tonight’s game:
“You have to give Missouri a ton of credit for the way they played today. To go on the road in the SEC – we talk about how hard that is all the time – and they really made it look easy today. So we have to give them credit for the way they played; the way they made plays. The level of toughness and determination their team played with, just unfortunately dwarfed ours in the most important moments of the ball game.”
“It’s just really disappointing to lose to, again, a very good team. I have a lot of respect for Robin (Pingeton) and their kids, but to lose on our home floor, and to lose in exactly the way that we knew they were going to play, I think it just doesn’t show a lot of commitment to the practice that we put in the last two days and what we think makes us good in that preparation battle.”
On how to defend against the Tigers’ three-point shooting
“Morgan Eye gave them such energy and made such big plays. And for the kid that I think is the best shooter in our league, to get 10 attempts, that shows that we didn’t have the commitment on defense to the things that we practiced, and I clearly focused on the wrong things coming into the game. But, you have to give her a lot of credit for the big plays, the big shots and how hard she worked without the ball. We had too many communication breakdowns and other distractions that mattered more than defending the shot and the player that we knew was going to take probably the most attempts besides (Bri) Kulas.”
On the inbounds play at the end
“We were just way too relaxed with the ball, which is really hard to understand at that point in the ball game, but I don’t have a great explanation for that.”
On what went wrong in the second half
“I think it was just a combination of a low level of defensive alertness, combined with a player doing what she does best.”
Missouri Head Coach Robin Pingeton
“Our kids hit some big time shots and did a nice job of taking care of the ball. I have so much respect for Amanda Butler and the program that she’s put together. They have some awfully talented players and incredible athletes. They battled us out there for 40 minutes, and we knew tonight would be nothing short of a 40 minute dog fight. I was really proud of our kids. Both teams made some runs, and down the stretch, we hit some big free throws.”
On the defensive play of Missouri tonight
“I really like our aggressiveness and our mentality right now. I thought coming out of the gates, we had to come out and be the aggressors and attack. Defensively, we knew we had to limit their second-shot opportunities. I thought one of our best things we did all night was take away their transition opportunities. They’re very, very good in the open court. We did a much better job than we had been doing as of late with our turnovers, so we didn’t allow quite so many transition buckets for them.”
Next Gator Game:
· Who: No. 4/6 South Carolina (214-2, 12-1 SEC)
· When: Sunday, February 23 * 1 p.m. ET
· Where: Columbia, S.C. * Colonial Life Arena
· TV: live on SportSouth (DirecTV 646), FS Southwest (DirecTV 676), FS Midwest (DirecTV 671), SunSports (Cox Ch. 48/1048; DirecTV 653)
· Radio: ESPN 850AM in Gainesville (www.Gatorzone.com)
· Online Video: WatchESPN app
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