Sophomore guard Jennifer Mossor (Orlando, Fla.)
scored a team-high 14 points off the bench to lead the University of Florida
women’s basketball team to a 60-55 victory over Florida Gulf Coast in the
second round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament on Monday night,
halting UF’s three-game postseason losing skid and
securing the Gators’ first postseason win in four years.
Florida (19-13) advances to the third round where the
Gators play N.C. State
(19-12) on Thursday, March 27 at 7 p.m. in Raleigh. The Wolfpack
defeated South Carolina, 72-69, in their second-round game on Thursday.
Mossor’s 14 points led Florida to a 23-2 advantage in bench scoring
on the night, while UF’s 18 offensive rebounds
propelled it to a 43-36 edge on the boards and a 25-9 margin in second-chance
points. Junior guard Sha Brooks (Jackson,
Tenn.) tallied her 11th consecutive
double-figure scoring game by adding 12 points and four of the Gators’ nine
steals on the evening, while sophomore Sharielle Smith
(Bradenton, Fla.) led the team with 10 rebounds. Junior guard Kim Critton (Memphis, Tenn.)
also helped out with five points and seven boards, three of which came on the
offensive end of the floor, in a reserve role against the Eagles (22-9).
“It was a hard-fought
battle on both sides, which is what you expect when you play postseason
basketball,” Florida head coach Amanda Butler said. “They are a very talented
team and they came in with a great game plan, so you have to credit them. We
had some unique performances from people that we haven’t necessarily relied on
this year, and that’s what you hope to get at this time of the year. We had
some of our best practices of the year leading up to this game, and we didn’t
shoot the ball confidently tonight, but the postseason is all about being tough
and pulling out wins.”
In addition to
representing the Gators’ first postseason victory since the first round of the
2004 NCAA Tournament, Monday night’s victory was also the 550th in program
history and marked the team’s 14th home win of the campaign, which equals the
second-best total in school history. The Orange
and Blue also tied the program record for biggest turnaround in back-to-back
seasons with 19 wins after finishing 9-22 a year ago, while Butler earned a share of the school record
for most victories by a first-year head coach.
“Your mentality in the
postseason is ‘win and advance,’ Butler
said. “Losing pretty doesn’t count. We’ll be back at practice tomorrow
preparing for North Carolina
State, and getting ready
to put our best game on the floor next time we play.”
An early 4-0 deficit
didn’t phase the Gators, as they ripped off a 7-0 run to assume a three-point
lead at the first media timeout. Florida Gulf Coast fought back to take a 22-15
lead midway through the half, but a three-point play by junior guard Kim Critton
(Memphis, Tenn.) and a slashing layup from junior
guard Sha Brooks (Jackson, Tenn.) fueled a 6-0
UF run and tied the game at 24-24 before the Eagles asked for timeout with 5:36
left before the break.
Critton provided another spark for Florida
just moments later when she blocked an FGCU layup
attempt and saved the ball from going out of bounds, then raced down the court
to grab an offensive rebound and dish to Brooks, who nailed a jumper from the
top of the key to propel the Orange
and Blue to a 28-26 edge.
The Gators outscored Florida Gulf Coast
11-1 over the last 5:40 of the first half, holding the Eagles without a field
goal for the last 5:20 of the frame, and entered the locker room with a 35-27
“We had lapses in play
that we too long to win the game tonight, and Florida
is a team that will take advantage of your mistakes,” Florida Gulf
Coast head coach Carl Smesko said. “(Amanda Butler) made some key adjustments at
the end of the first half and that forced us to get away from our game plan. We
battled and played as hard as we can. I can’t fault our effort, but we had some
lapses in execution.”
Brooks, senior guard Depree Bowden (Palmetto, Fla.) and sophomore
guard Jennifer Mossor
(Orlando, Fla.) each scored six points in the first half to lead UF, which
shot 44.1 percent from the floor and jumped out to a 24-16 edge on the boards
in the opening 20 minutes. The Gators also blocked three shots in the first
half en route to limiting FGCU to just a 36.7 percent efficiency rating in the
Brooks opened the
second-half scoring with a layup in transition just
after the 18-minute mark to make the score 37-27, and a three-point play by
junior forward Marshae Dotson (Columbus, Ohio) kept UF in
front by 10, 40-30, just after the first media timeout of the frame. A pair of
driving layups by Mossor
lead to 44-30 with 13:37 left on the clock, forcing FGCU to burn another
timeout with the Gators in the midst of another 7-0 run.
The Eagles came roaring
out of the stoppage with seven straight points to cut the deficit in half at
the next media timeout, but Dotson rattled home a jumper in the paint to stop
the FGCU streak and extend the lead back to nine, 46-37, with just over nine
minutes left in regulation.
A put-back layup by Brooks gave UF a 48-38 advantage at the
eight-minute mark of the second half, but Florida Gulf Coast stormed back to
pull within a pair 52-50 with just under four minutes left to play. Mossor helped the Gators maintain a two-possession lead at
the final media timeout after she swiped the ball from an Eagles ballhandler at midcourt and
charged down the lane for a heavily-contested layup
to make the score 54-50.
FGCU came within a point
at 54-53 before sophomore forward Sharielle Smith (Bradenton, Fla.)
converted a second-chance layup for a 56-53 lead with
less than two minutes to play. Bowden drained a baseline jumper on Florida’s next
possession to stretch the margin to 58-53, but FGCU countered with a bucket to
decrease the gap to three, 58-55, with under a minute on the clock.
UF came back down the
floor and misfired on a three-point attempt, but Dotson snared the offensive
board and the Eagles were forced to surrender three-straight fouls to put
Brooks on the free throw line, where she calmly sank a pair to put UF in front
by the final margin of 60-55.
Senior forward Delia De La
Torre scored a game-high 24 points and pulled down
nine rebounds to lead Florida
in both categories, while senior guard Chelsea Dermyer
chipped in with 10 points and six rebounds in 40 minutes.
Florida vs. Florida
Women’s NIT Second Round
March 24, 2008
*Tonight was the 550th win all-time for the Florida women’s
holds a 10-3 record this season in games decided by six points or less.
*Amanda Butler is the first coach in program
history to guide the team to a post-season appearance in her first season.
*Butler has improved
record by 10 wins over last season, tied for the best turnaround by the 48
teams in the country with first-year head coaches.
*Tonight was Florida’s
19th win this season. That ties for the most wins by a first-year head coach in
school history. Debbie Yow also recorded 19 wins (19-9) during the 1983-84 season.
holds a 3-2 record in WNIT play games decided by seven points or less and an
8-4 record in WNIT games overall.
three blocks tonight for 102 blocks on the season marking the eighth season Florida has recorded 100
or more blocks in a season and the first time since 2003-04.
*Florida has now
won 14 home games this season, tying the second-most home wins in Florida history.
was the first team in history to make the WNIT in its first season as a
Division I athletic program.
went on two runs of 7-0 or more in the first half. The Gators answered Florida Gulf Coast’s
opening 4-0 run with a 7-0 run from 18:28 to 15:59 in the first half. The
Gators went on an 11-0 run from 5:01 to 1:03 in the first half.
ended the first half on an 11-1 run and did not allow the Eagles to make shot
from the floor from 5:19 to the end of the half.
had two runs of 6-0 or more in the fist half. The Eagles put together a 7-0 run
from 14:45 to 13:28 and a 6-0 run from 12:11 to 8:37.
*There were three ties and three lead changes in
the first half before Florida
took the lead for good at the 4:09 mark on a shot by Sha
went nine minutes of game time without hitting a shot from the floor from 5:19
left in the first half to the 16:19 mark in the second half.
*The Eagles did not score their first points of the
second half until 16:19 remaining.
*The Eagles held Florida scoreless for over four minutes from
13:34 to 9:15 in the second half to cut the Gator lead to seven points.
*The largest lead of the game was a 14-point lead
by the Gators on a shot by Jennifer Mossor with 13:34
Aneika Henry fouled out with 6:08 remaining in the
game after playing just nine minutes.
Ashley Haegele fouled out with 0:16.7 remaining in
END OF REPORT