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Deana Allen scored a game-high 17 points (photo gallery by Matt Pendleton)

Wednesday December 28, 2011Women's Hoops Uses Hot Shooting Night to Defeat Samford, 81-56

Gainesville, Fla.

Deana Allen scored a game-high 17 points (photo gallery by Matt Pendleton)

The Florida women’s basketball team utilized steady shooting and strong play on the glass to take down the Samford Bulldogs, 81-56, Wednesday evening in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

 

The Gator’s 81 points were their second-highest scoring total at home this season (83, Charleston Southern, Dec. 20), as Florida closed its non-Southeastern Conference slate with its 10th victory of the year.

 

Five Gators scored in double-digits on Wednesday night, led by junior forward Jennifer George (Orlando, Fla.). The reigning SEC Player of the Week notched her fifth consecutive double-double, scoring 10 points and nabbing 13 boards, as Florida dominated the rebounding battle, 43-20.  The 20 total rebounds were Samford’s fewest this season.

 

The Gators’ persistence on the glass paid off, as Florida (10-3) tallied 19 second-chance points thanks to 21 offensive rebounds.

 

Senior guard Deana Allen (Houma, La.) led all players with a season-high 17 points on the evening, just one shy of her career high. Senior guard Jordan Jones (Suwanee, Ga.) had her eighth double-digit scoring performance of the season with 13 points, including her fifth outing with three or more three-pointers. Sophomore guard Jaterra Bonds (Gainesville, Fla.) and senior guard Lanita Bartley (Jacksonville, Fla.) scored 15 and 10 points against the Bulldogs, respectively.

 

Florida shot 49.2 percent from the floor, its second-high mark this year, while Samford (6-6) connected on 43.6 percent from the field.

 

The second half played out similarly to the first, as Jones hit her third three-pointer of the game just 39 ticks into the second stanza. Florida continued its momentum from the first half, going on a 7-0 run to open the half.

 

Allen’s jumper with 15 minutes remaining in the game gave Florida its largest lead of the night, as the Gators led 59-31.

 

Senior forward Azania Stewart (Wood Green, England) scored three straight buckets late in the second half, putting Florida ahead at 75-52. The Gators continued to push, holding the Bulldogs to just three points in the closing minutes of the half.

 

Jones got the scoring started for the Gators, knocking down the Orange and Blue’s first trey of the night at the 19:43 mark of the first half. Bonds wasn’t too far behind with a trey of her own less than two minutes later, sparking a 15-0 Gator run over the next 4:24.

 

Florida led by as many as 22 in the first stanza, as Bonds hit a three-pointer with 9:55 remaining in the half. The Bulldogs began to chip away at the Gator lead, pulling within 11 courtesy of back-to-back free throws by Samford’s Taylor Reece. Jones answered, nailing a trey to put the Gators up by 14 with less than four minutes remaining in the first.

 

Samford continued to surge, cutting the Florida lead to 10 with 2:09 to go in the half. The Orange and Blue recaptured the momentum, finishing the half on a 7-0 run. A George free throw began the scoring run and a Bartley offensive board and ensuing layup put the Gators up by 13 with a little over a minute to play.

 

Stewart put on a defensive showcase, blocking two shots and pulling down two defensive boards in less than a minute to hold the Bulldogs scoreless down the stretch. Bonds hit a jumper with 12 seconds remaining in the half to give the Gators a 43-26 advantage heading into halftime.

 

Florida next turns its attention to SEC action, playing host to sixth-ranked Kentucky on New Year’s Day in the league opener for both teams. The Gators and the Wildcats face off on January 1st in the O’Connell Center with tip-off scheduled for 1 p.m. Comcast Sports South will televise the game live, while the radio broadcast can be heard live in Gainesville on WBXY-FM 99.5 The Star and through the internet at www.GatorZone.com, the official website of the Florida Gators.

 

Tonight’s Notables

 

-       Senior guard Deana Allen scored 17 points, one off her career high (18 vs. Vanderbilt, 2/6/11)

-       Five Gators scored in double-digit figures, the only time this season and the first since March 4, 2011 (vs. Tennessee, 2011 SEC Tournament quarterfinal)

-       Tonight’s game was the second game this year every Gator who has suited up has scored (at San Francisco, 12/7/11)

-       With 10 points and 13 rebounds, Jennifer George recorded her fifth straight double-double, the seventh of the season and 11th of her career

-       George becomes the first Gator to have a double-double in five consecutive games since Vanessa Hayden tallied five in a row midway through the 2003-04 season

-       Jordan Jones has hit a three-pointer in nine consecutive games and 12 of 13 overall

-       Jones hit three three-pointers, the fifth 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 how we played overall. There were some spots where we do need to get better. We have to do a better job in the turnover column, especially with what we have coming up next. It was a fantastic shooting performance. It was great to see Jordan Jones get us out of the game that way, and Deana Allen followed suit. Jaterra Bonds followed with an excellent shooting night. For the most part, it was great defense. I think that was where we got most of our momentum. It was great defense that either led to tips or steals or turnovers. The defense really ignited our break. But overall I’m really proud with what we do and how we did today. Overall, I think it was a pretty good SEC eve.”

 

On Azania Stewart:

“Azania is the whole reason is why our offense works the best, and why it normally does go over well. When she is protecting the basket, and anticipating like she does, it allows the team to go out and pressure without the fear of getting beat. She is really smart and anticipates – I think she is the best post defender in our league. She impressed me most with how she came out after having a not so wonderful first half. She was really offensively aggressive in the second half, and made some nice plays.”

 

On the scoring balance:

“I think it makes us very hard to guard. Jennifer George has been leading us in scoring, and she got her double figures again, tonight.  When you shoot the ball the way that we did tonight, it does allow those defenses to collapse in on the paint and make those passes hard to catch. It makes it uncomfortable for whoever is on our low block. I think we’re really hard to guard.

 

“I would much rather have a team who has five or six kids averaging ten points, rather than one kid who averages 25, and the rest are averaging three or four. That makes it much harder to game plan because you’re just not sure. I think that’s one thing that makes us dangerous on the offensive end – that we have four, five, six people that are capable of scoring double figures on any given night.”

 

On the focus of the team:

“We have had two good days of preparation where we squeezed in a lot of Samford information, but also worked hard on ourselves. I challenged the girls over the holidays with ways to improve the ball game. A lot of the girls took those opportunities to heart. As I mentioned earlier, we were looking at this ball game as an SEC eve.”

 

On Kentucky

“The great thing about this time of year is that the ladies really get a chance to focus on basketball because they’re not in classes. We have to find ways to improve. You have to take it to another level at this point. We have talked about it for a long time, the opportunity to win championships in this league. We’re definitely going to have some great days of preparation for what they bring.”

 

Senior Guard Deana Allen

On the offense

“I have just been working really hard in practice, and not hesitant or indecisive in making my decisions. I feel like when I am hesitant, that is when I make mistakes, turnover the ball or am not as confident in my shooting. Over the past couple of days I have been more confident in our offense. My teammates have been setting really nice screens, so I feel like I needed to reward them as well.”

 

On the SEC season:

“Obviously things didn’t go our way last year, so we’re excited to start the SEC on a good note and bounce back from last season, so I’m excited that it’s almost here.”

 

Samford Head Coach Mike Morris

On Florida’s 3-point shooting:

“I thought that was a big difference in the game. They shot the ball well, we needed it and we couldn’t take off everything. They shot 8-for-16 from the arc for the game and 6-for-10 in the first half, and I thought that was a big difference. We made a few mistakes defensively, but a couple of times, they just made some tough threes. When they’re making threes, with the stuff that they do, it’s really hard to defend.”

 

On the end of the first half/Florida’s team effort:

“We knew (Jordan) Jones could shoot, we lost her a couple of times and she made us pay, but they had other players that stepped up and made some threes. I thought from a defensive standpoint, that separated it and we were not able to answer during that time at all.”

 

On playing tough teams:

“We’ve got to get better defensively, that’s the key, and playing teams like Kentucky, obviously, and even Florida, exposes a lot of things. That’s one of the reasons you play these top teams, so you can expose it and get better and work on it and improve on it, so when you start these next 17 conference games, that’s something you’ll be better at.”

 

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