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Lanita Bartley scored a career-high 28 points (photo: Matt Pendleton)

Saturday November 26, 2011Lanita Bartley's 28 Points Leads Women's Hoops Past Charlotte

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Lanita Bartley scored a career-high 28 points (photo: Matt Pendleton)

Senior Lanita Bartley (Jacksonville, Fla.) scored a career-high 28 points and Florida hit 8-of-8 free throws in the final minute to seal an 82-73 victory against Charlotte Friday afternoon during the final day of play at the Courtyard LaGuardia Turkey Classic held at the Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center on the campus of LIU in Brooklyn, N.Y.

 

The Gators (5-1), who won their fifth consecutive game, also got a double-figure scoring effort from Deana Allen (Houma, La.) and Jaterra Bonds (Gainesville, Fla.), who both tallied 12 points and helped Florida avenge last year’s season-ending loss in the third round of the WNIT to the 49ers (5-2). Jennifer George (Orlando, Fla.) just missed her third straight double-double, finishing the game with nine points and nine rebounds, helping the Gators win the rebounding battle, 45-39, and take a 40-36 edge in points in the paint.

 

“We had another night of great individual performances and I think that makes it really, really hard for teams to prepare for us. Most importantly, we won the battle in the paint, scoring and rebounding-wise,” UF head coach Amanda Butler said. “We played really good zone defense, which is not something we’ve worked a whole lot on but it was what needed to happen. With a veteran team like we have we were able to make adjustments and we responded.”

 

Florida overcame a seven-point deficit with 13:46 remaining and tied the score at 56 with 10:28 on the clock, as Bartley scored nine points, George four and Allen and Ndidi Madu (Antioch, Tenn.) a pair each during the stretch.

 

Bonds snapped the tie with a 15-foot jumper and then pushed the ball up the floor where she feed George who converted for a 60-56 lead and the Gators would never trail again.

 

Charlotte closed within three points twice on its next two offensive possessions, but Jordan Jones (Suwanee, Ga.) answered the first time with a floater in the lane and Bartley knocked down two free throws the second time.

 

Bonds again followed with a tough driving, pull-up eight-footer with 5:59 remaining that gave the Gators a seven-point lead, 66-59, their largest of the game to that point.

 

The teams traded buckets and scores for the next three minutes, before Jones stole an inbounds pass and fed Allen, who finished the short shot, and George collected one of 14 Gator steals in the game, passed to Bartley, who dropped in a layup for a 74-65 lead with 1:44 to play.

 

After Charlotte’s Jai Forney canned a three-pointer and trimmed UF’s lead to six points with 69 seconds remaining, the 49ers fouled the rest of the way to stop the clock and sent the Gators to the free throw line, where they calmly converted all eight attempts, with Azania Stewart (Wood Green, England), hitting two, Allen two and Bartley the final four.

 

“That was a lot of composure and that’s who we are this year as a free throw shooting team,” Butler said of her team’s 24-of-27 performance at the line. “We had a poor performance this year against Hampton and that was not who we were. I’m really proud of them for stepping up tonight. Free throw shooting is one of those things that are contagious within a team during a game.”

 

For Florida, it was the second consecutive night a Gator has had a career-high scoring effort. Against La Salle on Friday it was Jones who lit up the scoreboard for 28 points, doing most of her damage from the three-point arc. On Saturday, Bartley rose to the challenge and led the Gators.

 

“Lanita has a really unique knack for getting to the basket for her size,” Butler praised. “She’s very slippery and crafty and smart. She also does a great job of sensing the moment when she’s got to make plays for us that only she can make. It’s a credit to her basketball IQ and how smart she is. She’s a senior and trying to lead in any way that she can.”

 

Jennifer Hailey recorded a double-double for Charlotte with 16 points and 14 rebounds, while Forney and Epiphany Woodson both added 17 points for the 49ers, who shot 43.1 percent from the floor.

 

Florida hit 43.1 percent overall (28-65).

 

Charlotte, which trailed 34-32 at the break, ripped out of the halftime locker room scoring the first six points as part of a 9-2 run and took a 41-36 lead just 2:12 into the period.

 

Deana Allen (Houma, La.) responded with a three-pointer in front of the Gator bench, before the teams exchanged baskets, UF’s coming from Jaterra Bonds (Gainesville, Fla.), who took a feed from Allen, who stole the ball near the Gator baseline.

 

That’s when the 49ers staged a 7-2 run over the next two and half minutes and took a 50-43 lead with 13:46 to play.

 

Florida rallied behind its defense which fueled its offense and helped score the next eight points to regain the lead, 51-50, with 12:29 on the clock. Allen sparked the run with an offensive put-back, followed by four straight points from Bartley, who hit a pair from the line and then converted a driving layup. Ndidi Madu (Antioch, Tenn.) capped the run by finishing a feed from Allen inside.

 

“I’m proud of our kids that they didn’t drop their heads when Charlotte took a lead to start the second half,” Butler continued. “We came right back with the right spirit and fight to get right back into the ball game.

 

“You have to give Charlotte a lot of credit because they came out with a lot of fire and fight. They had some great individual performances, as well,” Butler said.

 

The teams then traded scores and the lead over the next minute and a half and the game was tied a 56 with 10:28 remaining.

 

It was an even first half of play, as the Gators took the slight 34-32 lead into the locker room.

 

Charlotte led by as many as five points, 16-11, with 13:13 remaining, but Florida scored the next five points, as Allen started the mini run with one free throw, Jennifer George put back an offensive rebound and Brittany Shine (Sacramento, Calif.) connected on a deep jumper.

 

The teams then traded scores, with Florida’s coming from Bartley’s driving layup, but the Gators couldn’t seem to take the lead. The squads also exchanged one free throw each, before Katie Meador came off the bench and hit a three-pointer for the 49ers, who took a 22-19 lead with 8:24 remaining.

 

The Gators mounted a 6-0 spurt, as Stewart put back on offensive board and then finished inside after receiving a beautiful pass from Allen, before Allen notched a bucket herself to cap the run.

 

Charlotte came right back with four consecutive points, but Bartley cut the deficit with an acrobatic finish to a layup and completed the three-point play at the line. The 49ers again tallied the next three points, before the Gators marched off a 6-0 run, capped by a three-pointer from Jones, who dribbled the length of the court in transition and stopped at the three-point arc where she nailed the trey and gave Florida a 34-30 lead. The 49ers finished the first-half scoring with a pair of free throws ending what was a very even statistical first 20 minutes of action.

 

Florida returns to action on Tuesday, November 29, when the team plays host to Belmont in the O’Connell Center beginning at 7 p.m. Fans can tune into the game on the radio at WBXY-FM 99.5 “The Star” in Gainesville and through the internet at www.GatorZone.com, the official website of the Florida Gators. The game also will have live streaming video available through www.GatorVision.tv, available for a small fee.

 

Tuesday’s outing against the Bruins is the Gator’s lone home appearance during a six-game stretch. Florida won’t play another home game until December 20, when the team plays host to the two-day Gator Holiday Classic featuring Charleston Southern, Duquesne and Maine.

 

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