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Florida won the 2011 Gator Holiday Classic

Wednesday December 21, 2011Women's Hoops Halts Duquesne's Streak with 62-49 Win in Gator Holiday Classic Title Game

Gainesville, Fla.

Florida won the 2011 Gator Holiday Classic

Junior forward Jennifer George (Orlando, Fla.) posted her fourth consecutive double-double and guided Florida to a hard-fought 62-49 victory against Duquesne Wednesday evening in the championship game of the 21st annual Gator Holiday Classic held at the O’Connell Center.

 

George was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Performer after scoring 15 points with 13 rebounds and becoming the first Gator to tally four straight double-doubles since Vanessa Hayden strung together five such performances midway through the 2003-04 season.

 

Joining George on the All-Tournament Team were teammates Jordan Jones (Suwanee, Ga.), who scored a team-best 18 points in the title game, and sophomore guard Jaterra Bonds (Gainesville, Fla.), who scored a season-high 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting against Duquesne (10-2), which had its program-record eight-game win streak come to an end.

 

“I’m really proud of the way we played. Duquesne is a good team, a well-coached team and a team that is definitely a contender in the A-10,” said Gator head coach Amanda Butler. “It wasn’t the prettiest of ball games. In a sense that you always look at things and wish you would have done things better, but then you look at a win like this against a team like Duquesne and see that your best basketball is right ahead of you.

 

“Everyone’s minutes, when they came and how they played them, was a contributing role in the game, and they did well,” Butler said. “We threw them in the fire and they made good decisions. I don’t think the point totals showed how our players off the bench contributed. On the flipside, the starters handled putting the points up for us. This was a team win, regardless of who scored the most or who tallied the most rebounds.”

 

UF also used lockdown defense to secure the victory, limiting the Dukes, who entered the contest ranked 16th in the nation scoring an average of 77.3 points per game, to a mere 49 points on 32.8 percent from the field. Additionally, the Gators were able to shutout the Dukes from distance, as Duquesne went 0-for-19 from three-point arc.

 

For the second straight evening the Gators (9-3) ripped out of the halftime locker room with great energy and scored the first 11 points to extend their one-point lead to a 33-21 advantage with 16:23 remaining in the game.

 

Jones nailed a three-pointer 15 seconds into the second half and Florida rode that momentum to start an 11-0 run and extend its one-point lead to a 33-21 advantage with 16:23 remaining in the game.

 

Duquesne scored its first points of the second half at the 15:56 mark after missing its first six shots.

 

The Dukes refused to go away and were able to cut UF’s advantage to three, 39-36 with 9:58 remaining.

 

Bonds then nailed a three-pointer and sparked a 7-0 spurt, pushing the Gator lead to back 10 points, 46-36, with 8:16 to play.

 

Duquesne made one last puch, cutting UF’s cushion to five, 50-45, with 4:11 left but the Gators again responded, scoring the next six points as Lanita Bartley (Jacksonville, Fla.) converted one free throw, George hit a tough inside jumper and Jones nailed her third triple of the game and Florida held a 56-45 cushion with 2:11 on the clock.

 

From that point forward, Bonds nailed a jumper and Jones went 4-for-4 from the free throw line to seal the victory.

 

Orsi Szecsi led Duquesne with 15 points and earned a spot on the all-tournament team, while Wumi Agunbiade added 13 points and a team-high eight rebounds for the Dukes.

 

It was tough in the early goings for Florida, which missed its first seven shots from the floor and didn’t connect on a field goal until senior Ndidi Madu (Antioch,Tenn.) hit one inside with 13:41 to go in the half. Fortunately for the Gators, Duquesne didn’t fare much better and held just an 8-6 lead at that stage.

 

The Gators then missed their next three shots before Bonds nailed a three-pointer at the 7:49 mark and brought the Gators within two, 13-11. The teams traded makes before Bartley tipped-in a miss with 5:34 remaining and tied the game at 15 forcing a timeout by the Dukes, who had made just 7-of-26 shots at that point.

 

Bonds continued her march and scored again with 4:19 remaining in the half to give Florida a 17-15 lead, its first of the game. Jones followed with a free throw and before she nailed the 250th three-pointer of her career that gave Florida a 22-19 lead with 48 seconds left in the opening frame and it would never trail again.

 

After such a tough start shooting from the floor, Florida recovered and converted 35.7 percent (20-56) overall, including 48.1 percent in the second half when it out-scored the Dukes, 40-28.

 

Florida now takes a few days off for the holiday before returning to action Wednesday, Dec. 28, when the team plays host to Samford beginning at 7 p.m. in the O’Connell Center. 

 

2011 Gator Holiday Classic All-Tournament Team

MVP: Jennifer George (Florida)

All-Tournament: Jaterra Bonds (Florida)

All-Tournament: Jordan Jones (Florida)

All-Tournament: Orsi Szecsi (Duquesne)

All-Tournament: Rachelle Coward (Charleston Southern)

 

Tonight’s Notables

·         *Florida won its 17th Gator Holiday Classic in the 21 years of the Tournament

·         *With 15 points and 13 rebounds, Jennifer George recorded her fourth consecutive double-double, sixth of the season and 10th of her career

·         *George becomes the first Gator to have a double-double in four straight games since Vanessa Hayden tallied five in a row midway thru the 2003-04 season

·         *Jaterra Bonds scored a season-high 16 points

·         *Jordan Jones has hit a 3-pointer in eight consecutive games and in 11 of 12 overall; her first of three treys was the 250th of her career

·         *Jones hit three three-pointers, the fourth time this year with three or more treys in a game

 

 

Tonight’s Quotes

Florida Head Coach Amanda Butler

Opening Statement…

 “I’m really proud of the way we played. Duquesne is a good team, a well-coached team and a team that is definitely a contender in the A-10. It wasn’t the prettiest of ball games. In a sense that you always look at things and wish you would have done things better, but then you look at a win like this against a team like Duquesne and see that your best basketball is right ahead of you.”

 

On the starters performance in the game…

“I think that the thing you don’t realize from the outside looking in is that you always evaluate how the bench or starters did based on how they scored. But our bench played a tremendous role tonight against Duquesne; it just didn’t come through with points.”

 

“Everyone’s minutes, when they came and how they played them, was a contributing role in the game, and they did well. We threw them in the fire and they made good decisions. I don’t think the point totals showed how our players off the bench contributed. On the flipside, the starters handled putting the points up for us. This was a team win, regardless of who scored the most or who tallied the most rebounds.”

 

On maintaining a positive attitude…

“We were definitely disappointed at halftime because of the amount of turnovers. We have to be a little more discriminating when we have to pass to Jennifer George in certain instances. Some of those turnovers, they came from a good place because we were trying to be aggressive. The next step that we have to take is that everybody on our team that is capable of hitting shots has to step up and not only take them, but hit them.”

 

Junior Forward Jennifer George

On the physicality of the game…

“It was a very physical game tonight. They made it a priority – posting up and trying to get rebounds. I thought that all the post and guards made an effort to get physical and rebound right with them.”

 

Duquesne Head Coach Suzie McConnell-Serio

On Duquesne’s performance in the tournament:

“It was a great event. Being able to come here over the holiday and get two good games in, play a caliber opponent like Florida, they’re a tremendous team, so this was a true test for us. We did some good things defensively, offensively, but we struggled. We obviously couldn’t put points on the board, and I think that was the biggest thing for us. When you have to expend so much energy against their pressure, fatigue became a factor. We had a point guard hobbled and running on one leg, we got in foul trouble with our backup point guard, so we had to expend a lot of energy and they just wore us down. They’re a very good team and they made plays when they needed to come away with the win.”

 

On Orsi Szecsi:

“Orsi’s very capable, as any of our players are. She does a lot of good things for us. She can shoot the three, she can post up for us and take players off the dribble. I’m happy that she made the All-Tournament team. I’m sure she would rather come away with a win, but it’s obviously a credit to her and what she brought this tournament.”

 

 

Gator Holiday Classic Third-Place Game Recap:

Charleston Southern Downs Maine in Consolation Game of Gator Holiday Classic 

The Charleston Southern University Buccaneers snapped a two-game losing streak and earned a 78-63 victory over the Maine Black Bears in the third-place matchup at the Gator Holiday Classic. CSU improved to 7-4 on the season, while UM fell to 3-9.

 

Rachelle Coward, who earned a spot on the all-tournament team, led the way for the Buccaneers with 30 points and eight boards, while Shay Jones chipped in 12 and eight rebounds in the victory. Shareka Maner led the way for Maine scoring 13 points and securing eight rebounds.

 

CSU will next see action on December 31 vs. Big South Conference foe, Presbyterian in a game that will mark the beginning of conference play for the Buccaneers. UM will play host for its final nonconference opponent of the season, Siena, on December 29.

 

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