Saturday November 13, 2010W-Basketball Battles Past UCF for WNIT Season-Opening Victory
Jaterra Bonds scored 15 points in her Gator debut.
Three Florida players recorded double-figure point totals and the Gators tied the school’s single-game record for blocks with 14 Saturday, as the Gators held off UCF for a 77-67 victory in the opening round of the 2010 Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament in front of 3,124 fans at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
The Gators (1-0) led by as many as 22 points with 9:27 remaining in the game before UCF began chipping away at its deficit. Trailing 61-39, the Knights used a 14-2 run over the next 4:12 to cut within 10 points, 63-53. Three consecutive UCF layups brought the Knights as close as five points, 67-62, on a Gevenia Carter basket with 2:25 left on the clock. Florida made key free-throws down the stretch to secure the victory.
“I was really proud that we sustained good effort throughout the game,” Florida head coach Amanda Butler said. “Our performance was very inconsistent, but I thought our effort was consistent throughout. UCF did a great job getting ready for us and had every expectation of beating us. We had a slow start, but we did a good job of bouncing back and maintaining our composure. We did a better job in the second half, especially with turnovers. Monday night will be a really quick turnaround and that will be a challenge for us.”
Florida will face Charlotte at 7 p.m. ET Monday in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in the second round of the Preseason WNIT. The 49ers advanced to the tournament’s second round with a 72-40 victory against Iona on Saturday afternoon. Butler will be looking for her 100th career victory and will attempt to do so against the school that she coached from 2005-07.
The Gators’ 14 blocks as a team vs. UCF tied the school single-game record. Florida also recorded 14 rejections against Harvard on Dec. 20, 1983.
Freshman guard Jaterra Bonds (Gainesville, Fla.) recorded a team-high 15 points in her Gator debut, tying for the eighth-most points scored by a Florida player in her first game. Bonds added four rebounds in three assists in 29 minutes of action. Three previous Gators tallied 15 points in their UF debuts, including Brandi McCain’s 15 points in a Preseason WNIT First Round game against Arkansas State on Nov. 14, 1998.
Fellow newcomer Lanita Bartley (Jacksonville, Fla.), a transfer guard from nearby Santa Fe College, followed with 12 points and a game-high four steals in just 18 minutes of play. Junior forward Ndidi Madu (Antioch, Tenn.) was the third Gator to reach double-figures with 12 points, including a perfect 4-for-4 from the free-throw stripe, and four rebounds.
Freshman guard Kayla Lewis (Decatur, Ga.) became the first Florida freshman to start the opening game of her career since Sha Brooks did so against St. Francis (N.Y.) on Nov. 18, 2005. Lewis was the first freshman to start a season-opener at home since Brittany Davis and Sarah Lowe did so against Lamar on Nov. 24, 2002. Lewis and junior center Azania Stewart (Wood Green, England) each added nine points in the game, while Stewart swatted a game-high four blocks and Lewis added three rejections.
Sophomore center Jennifer George (Orlando, Fla.) and freshman forward Deaundra Young (Titusville, Fla.) each brought down a game-high eight rebounds.
The Gators shot 41.0 (25-of-61) percent from the floor in the game, including a 40.0 (6-of-15) clip from beyond the arc. Florida also connected on 21-of-28 free throws and won the rebound battle 54-41. The Gators were tenacious on the glass, scoring 24 second-chance points and 34 points in the paint.
UCF shot 33.8 (26-of-77) percent from the floor and connected on just 52.6 (10-of-19) percent of its free throws. The Knights forced the Gators into 24 turnovers, which resulted in 28 UCF points.
UCF raced out to an early 9-1 lead at the 16:57 mark backed by five points by Chelsie Wiley. The Gators attempted just one shot from the floor during that span and committed four turnovers. Stewart answered with a jumper and Bonds added two free throws to bring the Gators within four, 9-5, with 15:21 remaining in the half. The two teams traded baskets before a three-pointer by Bonds from the right wing allowed Florida to cut within two, 13-11, with 12:20 left. Just more than a minute later, Bonds connected on a three-pointer that bounced in to give the Gators their first lead of the game at 14-13.
Back-to-back baskets by UCF allowed the Knights to extend their advantage back to three, 17-14, with 10:16 remaining. UCF kept rolling to a 21-16 lead at the 8:55 mark after consecutive hoops. The teams then began again trading baskets before the Gators got a basket from Bonds and a three-pointer from redshirt freshman Lily Svete (Granger, Ind.) at the top of the key on back-to-back possessions to pull ahead 28-26 with 4:23 left on the clock. That was the start of a 9-0 run that allowed Florida to go up 32-26 with 3:41 remaining until intermission. That run included, Florida finished the half on a 16-3 run to take a 39-29 advantage into the locker room.
The Gators shot an impressive 50.0 percent (15-of-30) from the floor in the opening period, including a 50 percent clip (5-of-10) from beyond the arc. UCF shot 32.5 percent (13-of-50) from the floor and forced the Gators into 16 first-half turnovers.
Florida scored eight of the first nine points of the second half, capped off by a three-pointer by junior guard Jordan Jones (Suwanee, Ga.) at the 16:50 mark that extended UF’s advantage to 18, 48-30. The Gators continued to build their lead for much of the early part of the second half, going up by 22, 61-39, with 9:29 remaining on a pair of Madu free throws, before UCF began its comeback.
UCF (0-1) was led by a game-high 19 points from Aisha Patrick, who was one of four Knights to reach double-figure point totals. Senior D’Nay Daniels followed with 14 points and a team-high seven rebounds, while Carter and Wiley added 12 points apiece.
“I thought we started the game well and then hit a lull midway through the first half up to about the 12-minute mark of the second half,” UCF head coach Joi Williams said. “We knew that they were great shot-blockers coming into the game and to have 14 blocks, that’s pretty incredible. Florida has great athletes. It’s something for us to learn from and I thought we played a hard-fought game. We did a good job of not quitting and we made a comeback, so it is disappointing, but we’ll take it and learn from it.”
· The Gators improve to 21-16 all-time record in season openers, including a 13-5 mark when the first game of the year takes place at home.
· Florida now leads the all-time series with UCF 25-0, including a 14-0 mark when the game is played in Gainesville.
· The Gators improve to 210-60 all-time vs. teams from the state of Florida, including a 12-5 tally under the direction of head coach Amanda Butler.
· Head coach Amanda Butler earned her 99th career win with Saturday’s victory, improving her career record to 99-61, including a 59-39 tally during her tenure with the Gators. Butler needs one more victory to top the century mark.
· The Gators have tallied at least one three-pointer in 91 consecutive games dating back to the 2007-08 season.
· Florida is playing in the Preseason WNIT for the second time in school history, after also participating in the event in 1998-99. The Gators improve to 4-1 all-time in Preseason WNIT action.
· The Gators’ 14 blocks as a team tied the school single-game record. Florida also recorded 14 rejections against Harvard on Dec. 20, 1983
· Freshman guard Kayla Lewis became the first Florida freshman to start a season opener since Sha Brooks did so against St. Francis (N.Y.) on Nov. 18, 2005. Lewis was the first freshman to start a season opener at home since Brittany Davis and Sarah Lowe did so against Lamar on Nov. 24, 2002.
· Freshman guard Jaterra Bonds tallied a team-high 15 points in her Gator debut, tying for the eighth-most points scored by a Florida player in her first game in the Orange and Blue. Three previous Gators tallied 15 points in their UF debuts, including Brandi McCain’s 15 points in a Preseason WNIT First Round game against Arkansas State on Nov. 14, 1998.
· Junior forward Ndidi Madu recorded her third career double-figure scoring game with 12 points.
· Junior transfer Lanita Bartley tallied 12 points, including a perfect 4-for-4 from the free-throw line and a game-high four steals in her Florida debut.
FLORIDA HEAD COACH AMANDA BUTLER
“I was really proud that we sustained good effort throughout the game. Our performance was very inconsistent, but I thought our effort was consistent throughout. We knew that UCF would come in prepared and ready to try to steal this one. They did a great job getting ready for us and had every expectation of beating us. We had a slow start, but we did a good job of bouncing back and maintaining our composure. We did a better job in the second half, especially with turnovers. Monday night will be a really quick turnaround and that will be a challenge for us.”
On when she determined the starting lineup for the season-opener …
“We’ve been kind of working with that rotation for the past few days, but that’s something that is not that important to us. I think on our team, you can look at the stats and look at performance and see that the first five doesn’t mean that it’s our best five. It’s a case of who we think will do a good job of setting the tone for us. In the last five minutes of the game, we used completely different combinations. We kind of knew our lineup for a few days, but it’s all subject to change in terms of match-ups, who shows readiness and those kinds of things.”
On whether nerves played a role in Florida’s slow start …
“I think we had a lot of nerves. Our intensity was good, we just had a lot of turnovers that came from nerves. The good thing about having a lot of turnovers and still being able to win is that you know they are correctable and still in your control. When you’re in charge of your own mistakes, you have a better chance of correcting them.”
On whether she thought Florida struggled with its half-court offense on Saturday …
“I didn’t feel like we struggled. We did some of the things we wanted to do and we still out-rebounded a really good rebounding team. We did that just because of heart and effort and that gave us some really good second chances. We have to do a better job taking care of the ball, but we had some really, really good looks.”
#3 Lanita Bartley, Jr.-TR, G
On playing her first game for the Gators …
“It felt good. I just wanted to be able to set the tempo and just use my quickness to help the team.”
#10 Jaterra Bonds, Fr., G
On playing her first collegiate basketball game …
“It feels great. I just wanted to get out there and do what I do best – play comfortable and under control.”
On what she was thinking when UCF cut Florida’s lead down to five late in the second half …
“We knew we just needed to step our tempo up. There is no way that we should have let them cut that lead down to five points.”
#22 Kayla Lewis, Fr., G
On becoming Florida’s first true freshman to start a game since Sha Brooks in 2005 …
“I think it means a lot for coach to think that much of me. It really didn’t matter to me whether I started or came off the bench. I just wanted to be able to produce and make an impact. My teammates just told me that I would be able to do well if I played within myself and did what I do well. With all the hard work we have put in since June, it was time to go out there and have some fun.”
UCF HEAD COACH JOI WILLIAMS
“I thought we started the game well and then hit a lull midway through the first half up to about the 12-minute mark of the second half. We knew that they were great shot-blockers coming into the game and to have 14 blocks, that’s pretty incredible. We didn’t do a very good job of shot faking like we talked about in preparation. Florida has great athletes. It’s something for us to learn from and I thought we played a hard-fought game. We did a good job of not quitting and we made a comeback, so it is disappointing, but we’ll take it and learn from it.
On UCF struggling late in the first half into the early part of the second half …
“I think we kind of relaxed a bit and, after getting off to a good start shooting the ball, we kind of had a lapse. It was turnovers and we did not take very good care of the ball. They did a good job of making us pay for those mistakes. They did an incredible job on the boards and we knew that was going to be one of the keys to the game.”
On whether Florida’s speed negatively affected UCF …
“I don’t think so. We had a couple of lapses and, if you look at it, we really played about 28 to 30 minutes out of 40. You have to play 40 minutes and that’s what it comes down to.”