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Saturday March 17, 2012Lucky No. 13? A look at the Gators women's basketball team in 12 trips to Big Dance

Updated: 12:21pm, March 17

Gators head to Bowling Green for NCAA Tournament

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – The Gators women’s basketball team is in the NCAA Tournament for the 13th time in school history and is making its first appearance since 2009.

Florida head coach Amanda Butler was around for the Gators’ first invitation to March Madness in 1993. She was a feisty –and to those who recall watching her play back then – a sometimes-flashy point guard.

In her fifth season as UF’s head coach, this is Florida’s second trip to the tournament under Butler.

She is hoping the Gators can do what they did in ’93 – win their first game – when they open against Ohio State on Sunday afternoon at Stroh Arena.

Let’s take a quick look at the previous 12 UF women’s teams to qualify for March Madness. The Gators are 10-12 overall in NCAA Tournament play.

1993: The Gators won their March Madness debut on LaTonya McGhee’s 15-footer with 2 seconds left, spoiling Bowling Green’s perfect home season. The Gators advanced to the second round and played at Virginia, where they lost 69-55 in the second round.

1994: Florida earned a No. 4 seed in the West Region in Butler’s senior season and was eligible to host a first-round game. Only one problem: the O’Dome was booked for a Rod Stewart concert, so the Gators had to play at Texas A&M and lost 78-76 in the final game of Butler’s career.

1995: Captains DeLisha Milton and Crystal Parker led Florida back to the tournament for a third consecutive season. In the first-round the Gators defeated Radford 80-49 in Charlottesville, Va. They lost 72-67 in the second round to Virginia, the second time in three years their season came to an end at the Cavaliers’ hands.

1996: The Gators entered as the No. 5 seed in the Mideast Region and traveled to Durham, N.C., to face the University of San Francisco. The Gators suffered a 68-61 defeat to the Dons.

1997: Florida entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed in the Mideast Region and hosted the first NCAA Tournament game in school history when Florida International came to town. Florida defeated FIU in the first round, and then knocked off USC at the O’Dome in the second round behind a career-high 35 points from current Gators assistant coach Murriel Page. Florida traveled to West Lafayette, Ind., for the Sweet 16 and knocked off Louisiana Tech to reach the Elite Eight. Florida’s magical run ended with a 53-51 loss to Old Dominion in what remains the Gators’ most memorable trip to the tourney.

1998: Page led the Gators to their sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and second consecutive Sweet 16 berth. The Gators knocked off Montana and Virginia Tech in the first two rounds at the O’Dome before traveling to Oakland, Calif., to face Duke in the Sweet 16. The Blue Devils won 71-58 to end Florida’s season.

1999: Florida squeaked into the tournament as an 11th seed in the Midwest Region but the program’s seventh straight trip to the postseason didn’t last long as Arizona beat the Gators 87-84 in overtime in Piscataway, N.J.

2001: After a season away, the Gators returned to the Big Dance thanks to a school-record 11 conference wins. The trio of Tombi Bell, Misty Knight and Tamara Stocks felt snubbed the previous season and that helped fuel a 24-win season. As a No. 3 seed in the West Region, the Gators opened with a win at home against Holy Cross. However, Florida fell to Washington in the second round 86-75.

2002: Senior tri-captains Lindsey DeLoach, Brandi McCain and Monique Cardenas led Florida back to the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time in 10 seasons. However, it turned out to be a short stay as Florida lost big to BYU 90-52 in the first round in Ames, Iowa. Six days after the loss, longtime coach Carol Ross stunningly announced she was leaving as the winningest coach in school history (247-121).

2004: Following a 9-19 record in Carolyn Peck’s first season, the Gators rebounded to go 19-11 and make a return to the tournament. The Gators beat New Mexico on the Lobos’ home court in the first round before falling to Baylor, 91-76.

2006: The Gators had memorable wins over No. 2 LSU and at No. 5 Tennessee during the regular season – becoming only the second unranked team to ever beat the Lady Vols in Knoxville – but couldn’t carry the momentum over to the postseason. Florida opened the tournament in Tucson, Ariz., and lost in the first round to New Mexico as the Lobos avenged their loss from two years earlier.

2009: Back at UF as head coach, Butler led the Gators to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in three years in her second season on the job. The Gators earned the No. 8 seed in the Trenton Region and opened with a 70-57 win over Temple in Storrs, Conn. Next up was undefeated Connecticut and the eventual national champions rolled to an 87-59 win.

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