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Wednesday March 26, 2008Florida Plays NC State in Raleigh on Thursday in the WNIT Third Round

Gainesville, FL

 

Florida battles N.C. State in the third round in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament on Thursday, March 27 on Kay Yow Court at Reynolds Coliseum, with tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gator Game Day: WNIT Third Round

What: Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) Third Round

Who: Florida (19-13) at N.C. State University (19-12)

When: Thursday, March 27 at 7 p.m. ET

Where: Raleigh, N.C. * Kay Yow Court at Reynolds Coliseum (8,544)

Radio: LIVE on WRUF-AM850 in Gainesville - audio simulcast on Cox Channel 96 with Steve Babik & Steve Russell

Internet Audio: LIVE thru GatorZone.com (FREE of charge)

GatorVision Online: none

Television: none

Post-Game Satellite Feed: TBD

Tickets: (919) 865-1510 or (800) 310-PACK … $8 Adult ... $6 Senior Citizen ... $1 Children ... $4 Students

 

 

Game Day Gator Tales

Florida battles N.C. State in the third round in the WNIT, with a spot in the quarterfinals on the line.

 

Both teams are coming off thrilling, hard-fought second-round home victories, as the Gators staved off Florida Gulf Coast, 60-55, while the Wolfpack rallied for a 72-69 decision over South Carolina, which had jumped out to a 14-point lead.

 

 

A Florida Win Would ...

*be the 20th victory of the season, marking the 10th time in the 34-year history of the program the team has reached the milestone and the first time since the 2005-06 squad went 21-9;

 

*make Amanda Butler the winningest first-year head coach in UF history, as she enters Thursday’s game tied with Debbie Yow, who also tallied 19 victories during her inaugural campaign with the Gators in 1983-84;

 

*mark an 11-game improvement from last year’s 9-22 overall record, which would be the greatest one-season turn-around in program history (currently tied for the best improvement)

 

 

Senior Citizens

Both team’s rosters feature just one senior, apiece, with both being the leading scorers of their respective squads.

 

Depree Bowden, the lone senior on the Gator bench, averages 13.5 points per game in addition to team-highs of 68 steals and 55 three-pointers

 

Khadijah Whittington, a first-team All-ACC performer, is the heart of the Wolfpack on the court, where she contributes team-highs of 17.0 points and 11.5 rebounds along with 74 steals and 51 blocks.

 

 

Usually Tough When it’s Tight

Florida sports 10-3 record this season in games decided by six points or less, with three of the last four regular-season games contributing to the mark, as well as the Gators’ 60-55 win over Florida Gulf Coast in the WNIT second round.

 

The Gators ended the regular season with a 72-66 win at Ole Miss (March 2), after falling at home to South Carolina, 69-65, on February 24th. UF defeated Arkansas, 75-73, on February 17th, with Sha Brooks hitting two free throws with 1.2 seconds remaining to seal the win.

 

 

It’s Been a Tight Tournament

Ten the 16 WNIT second-round games were decided by seven points or less.

 

 

COURT-ship of Coaches

Thursday’s game is the second time this season Florida will play a game on a court named for the head coach sitting on the opposing bench. Dedicated on Feb. 16, 2007, the surface in Reynold’s Coliseum was named in honor of N.C. State and women’s basketball coaching legend Kay Yow.

 

On February 28th, the Gators also played at The Summitt, where the court inside Thompson-Boling Arena is named after Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt.

 

 

Making Yow Proud

The Wolfpack have compiled a 12-4 record on Kay Yow Court, including an 8-1 mark against non-conference teams this season. All four of the team’s home losses were against teams that earned an NCAA Tournament bid (Xavier, North Carolina, Georgia Tech & Maryland).

 

Florida is 1-3 on away floors against non-conference opponents this season.

 

 

Florida vs. N.C. State

Florida and NC State will meet for the third time, with the series tied at 1-all, each winning on its home court during a home tournament.

 

The Gators won the 1994 State Farm Classic by defeating the Wolfpack 77-67 on Dec. 29, 1994 in the championship game, while NC State took the consolation game of the GlaxoSmithKline Invitational with its 81-77 decision over UF on Dec. 7, 2002.

 

The two teams are scheduled to play once next season in Raleigh.

 

 

Scouting NC State

As a team, NC State features one of the nation’s stingiest defenses, ranking among the country’s top-27 teams for blocked shots (5.1 bpg), field-goal percentage defense (36.6%) and scoring defense (56.7 ppg). The Wolfpack also force 19.7 turnovers per game. Only twice in the last 12 games has an opponent scored more than 70 points, with just top-5 ranked foes Maryland and North Carolina topping the mark.

 

NC State is 2-0 this season against SEC teams, earning an 80-71 win at Ole Miss on Dec. 21st, as well as its recent 72-69 victory against South Carolina in the WNIT second round.

 

 

Scouting the Wolfpack

At the top of nearly every statistical category for the Wolfpack is senior Khadijah Whittington. The 6-foot-1 forward leads the team in scoring (17.0 ppg), rebounding (11.5 rpg), field goal percentage (49.8%), steals (74) and blocks (51). In the WNIT second-round win against South Carolina, Whittington contributed 11 points with 15 rebounds, helping NC State outrebound one of the SEC’s top rebounding teams 48-35, collecting 23 offensive boards while limiting USC to just six.

 

Junior guard Shayla Fields averages 13.3 points while dishing 110 assists and hitting 48-of-139 (34.5%) three-pointers. Fields scored a team-high 16 points against USC, converting 7-of-10 free throws and 3-of-6 shots from long range.

 

Sophomore Nikitta Gartrell also had a big night against the Gamecocks, tallying 14 points and improving her season-average to 9.4 per game.

 

 

No. 20 is 23 from 21

Senior Depree Bowden (who wears jersey No. 20) enters Thursday’s contest with 977 career points - 23 shy of becoming the 21st Gator to reach the 1,000-point milestone for her career.

 

Bowden has tallied at least 20 points in five different games this season, most recently on March 6 against South Carolina in the first round of the SEC Tournament, where she hit 21 points on 5-of-7 three-pointers and 8-of 13 overall leading Florida to the win. Bowden tagged FAMU for a season-high 24-point effort on January 2nd. Her career-high is 28 points, when she earned against Vanderbilt on Jan. 14, 2007.

 

What If...

Should Depree Bowden top the 1,000-point plateau, she would join current teammates Sha Brooks and Marshae Dotson in the scoring club. Brooks and Dotson hit the milestone this season.

 

The last time the Gators took the court featuring two 1,000-point scorers was during the 1999-2000 season, when three players all topped the milestone: Tiffany Travis, Tonya Washington and Tamara Stocks … and all three eclipsed the mark during that same season.

 

 

Team Ties

Debbie Yow, sister of NC State head coach Kay Yow, was Florida’s head coach for the 1983-84 and 1984-85 seasons, compiling a two-year record of 41-18 during her tenure in Gainesville. She guided the Gators to the 1985 NWIT, the first postseason berth in program history.

 

UF head coach Amanda Butler, assistant coaches Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick and David Lowery, as well as assistant to the head coach Janna Magette, arrived in Gainesville via the state of North Carolina. During her inaugural two seasons as a head coach, Butler guided UNC Charlotte to a 40-22 record and was aided by those three, who served as 49ers assistant coaches. The city of Charlotte is approximately 130 miles west of Raleigh.

 

 

UF vs. Atlantic Coast Conference Teams

Florida holds a 76-52 all-time record against teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference, including its 81-78 loss to Florida State on Nov. 23rd in the Gators’ only meeting versus a league team this season.

 

 

Who’s Hot?

Senior Depree Bowden is swishing shots until her hoops career is finished! She’s upped her scoring average down the stretch and assumed the top-spot on UF’s scoring chart this season following her impressive two-game showing at the SEC Tournament, where she contributed a team-high 18.0 points, hitting 7-of-11 from the three-point arc (63.6%) and 14-of-24 shots overall (58.3%). Bowden also dished eight assists with just two turnovers in the league’s postseason event.

 

 

Who Else is Hot?

Sha Brooks has scored in double-figures in 11 consecutive games entering Thursday’s WNIT third-round game. During that span, she is averaging a team-best 15.3 points per game, connecting on 35.0 percent (21-60) from the three-point arc, while dishing 29 assists and collecting 26 steals, also team-highs.

 

In Florida’s last 11 games, Brooks has converted 37-of-43 free throws (86.0%), including her 2-of-2 effort with 1.2 seconds remaining in the thrilling 75-73 victory over Arkansas on February 17. Entering the 2008 postseason, Brooks led the SEC (all games) with a 81.4-percent free throw mark.

 

END OF REPORT

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