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Monday March 23, 2009Women's Hoops Plays Top-Ranked and No. 1-seed Connecticut in NCAA Second Round on Tuesday

Storrs, CT

The University of Florida women’s basketball team will face its toughest test of the entire season on Tuesday, when the Gators play top-ranked, undefeated and No. 1-seeded Connecticut in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Tip-off from Harry A. Gampel Pavilion, the Huskies’ home court, is scheduled for 7:11 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN2 as the network’s national game.

 

The Gators, who are the No. 8 seed in the Trenton Regional, are playing their first NCAA Second Round game since the 2004 season, when they were seeded fifth and opened with a 68-56 win at New Mexico, before falling to fourth-seeded Baylor at The Pit in Albuquerque. This is the seventh time in program history the Gators have advanced to the NCAA second round, where the team sports a 2-4 record at this stage of the tournament. The two years Florida reached at least the NCAA Sweet 16 were 1997 and 1998, with an Elite Eight showing in 1997.

 

The winner of Tuesday’s game advances to the NCAA Sweet 16 and plays the winner of game between No. 4-seed Virginia and No. 5-seed California. The semifinal games for the Trenton Regional will be played on Sunday, March 29th, with the regional final slated for Tues., March 31.

 

Tuesday’s contest against top-seeded Connecticut (33-0) will be the second time Florida has faced a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The only other time was a heartbreaking 53-51 loss to Old Dominion in the 1997 Regional Final. Current Gator head coach Amanda Butler was an assistant coach for Florida that season.

           

Florida is 0-8 all-time against No. 1-ranked teams, including a 0-3 mark on the top-team’s home court. The last time the Gators squared off against a No. 1-ranked team was on Feb. 27, 2005, when LSU captured the 76-52 decision in Baton Rouge.   Tuesday will be the first time Florida will face a No. 1-ranked team that is not a member of the Southeastern Conference. The other top-ranked teams the Gators have faced includes Auburn, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

 

Florida is 4-3 this season against nationally-ranked teams, including one win on an away court (at then-No. 22/21 Florida State on Nov. 23).

 

In Florida’s seven games this season vs. ranked opponents, Sha Brooks is averaging 20.3 points, while shooting 40.4 percent from the floor (44-109), collecting 3.0 rebounds, with 12 of the 21 coming on the offensive end. She has scored at least 24 points in four of those seven games.

 

Florida’s current 24-7 record is the best 31-game record in program history. The 1995, 1997 and 1998 Gator teams all were 23-8 through 31 games. The 1995 and 1997 squads won their respective 32nd game and improved to 24-8.

 

Florida’s 70-57 victory over Temple in the NCAA Second Round was the team’s 24th win of the year, tying the all-time program record also achieved by the 1995 (24-9), 1997 (24-9) and 2001 (24-6) teams.

 

UF seniors Sha Brooks and Marshae Dotson have been the team’s offensive leaders this season. Brooks leads the team in scoring (16.7 ppg), assists (4.74), free throws made (134) and free throws attempted (169), while ranking second for steals (1.68) and made 3-pointers (47). In addition to 13.7 points per game, Dotson leads UF in field goal percentage (61.1%), rebounding (6.9 pg) and offensive rebounds (94), while logging a team-best three double-doubles.

 

In the last three games, Marshae Dotson is averaging 18.3 points and 3.3 steals, shooting 63.2 percent from the floor (24-38) and 70 percent from the free throw line (7-10). Sha Brooks is contributing 17.7 points and 5.0 assists over those last three games, connecting on 44.4 percent from the 3-point arc (8-18) and 75 percent from the line (9-12). Junior Steffi Sorensen, who is tallying 12.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 steals over that span, is coming off an impressive all-around performance in the NCAA Tournament first round win over Temple. In that victory, Sorensen posted her first career double-double with 13 points and a career-high 13 rebounds to go along with three assists and three steals.

 

Gator Game Day: NCAA Second Round

What: #8 Seed Florida (24-7) at #1 Seed Connecticut (34-0)

When: Tuesday, March 24, 2009 * 7:11 p.m. ET

Where: Storrs, Conn. * Harry A. Gampel Pavilion (10,027)

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)

Television: Live on ESPN2 with Pam Ward and Doris Burke

Streaming Internet Video: Live on ESPN360.com

Post-Game Satellite Feed: none for NCAA First & Second Rounds

Tickets: $22 for adults & $15 for seniors/youth

 

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