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Deana Allen scored 14 points, with six rebounds and four steals.

Thursday January 12, 2012Florida's Second-Half Rally Fall Short at No. 19/16 Georgia, 61-55

Athens, GA

Deana Allen scored 14 points, with six rebounds and four steals.

For the second consecutive game Florida couldn’t overcome a woeful first half and dropped a tough 61-55 decision at No. 19/16 Georgia Thursday evening at Stegeman Coliseum in front of 2,832 Bulldog fans.

 

The Gators (11-6, 1-3 SEC) trailed 29-16 at halftime, but outscored the Bulldogs (14-3, 3-1 SEC) 39-32 in the second half, as all four of Florida’s Southeastern Conference games have been decided by six points or less.

 

After Georgia scored the first points of the second to take a 15-point lead, Florida began trading scores and eventually chipping away at the deficit.

 

The first such spark was after back-to-back buckets from Azania Stewart and Deana Allen got Florida within 10 points, 48-38, with 12:42 remaining. The Gators had a two opportunities to get even closer, but turned the ball over both times.

 

Following a score from Anne Marie Armstrong, who finished with 19 points, that helped Georgia to a 40-28 advantage, the Gators ripped off a 9-0 run, with three-pointers from Allen and Jordan Jones and a three-point play from Jennifer George and Florida was within three points, 40-37 with 9:26 remaining.

 

Georgia came right back with a three-pointer from Khaalidah Miller and Krista Donald followed with a jumper that took the Bulldogs back to an eight-point lead with 7:23 on the clock.

 

Allen hit a tough jumper, before Georgia scored for straight points and took a 10-point lead.

 

George scored for Florida, but Georgia answered, before Jones knocked down a 25-footer with just under four minutes remaining and started a 8-2 run that had Florida within four points, 53-49, with 2:31 remaining.

 

The turnover bit again and Georgia took advantage by countering with the next three points of the game.

 

Allen came away with one of her four steals and dribbled the length of the court for the layup and Florida was within five points, 56-51, with 65 seconds remaining.

 

Florida missed a pair of point-blank layups in the final 90 seconds of the game and Georgia came down the court and capitalized both times, tacking on three points when the Gators could have had four points in their favor with makes and would never recover.

 

George led Florida with 15 points and eight rebounds, but had her double-double streak halted at eight. Allen finished with 14 points, six rebounds and four steals, while Jones added 13 points. Lanita Bartley tallied eight rebounds, helping Florida win the rebounding battle, 38-30.

 

Florida committed a season-high 23 turnovers that resulted in 22 Georgia points, The Bulldogs, however, committed 24 miscues that the Gators converted into 25 points.

 

The Gators shot 33.3 percent overall for the game, hitting 22-of-66 of their shots. They attempted 24 more shots than their hosts, who converted 47.6 percent on 20-of-42 shooting. The Bulldogs also helped themselves at the charity stripe, where they sank 18-of-22, while Florida managed just 6-of-11.

 

“I know our team is so frustrated from playing such tremendous second half when they overcome so much because they play so poorly in the first half,” UF head coach Amanda Butler said. “We just have to get better the first 20 minutes of the game.”

 

UF has played 45 games over the last two-plus seasons decided by 10 points or less, including seven this year, as well as all four SEC games.

 

The last six games in the Florida-Georgia series have been decided by single digits.

 

Florida struggled to find its shot in the first half, yet trailed just one, 7-6, seven and a half minutes into the contest as the team hit 2-of-14 to begin the game. While Georgia didn’t struggle as much as the Gators, they didn’t attempt nearly as many shots.

 

The teams exchanged scores until the 11-minute mark of the half, when Khaalidah Miller scored five straight points and sparked a 10-2 run and Georgia led 19-10 with 6:32 remaining in the first half.

 

Azania Stewart and Jennifer George worked the high-low game to perfection in providing Florida’s lone score during the spree, as George dropped in two of her eight points during the opening 20 minutes of action.

 

The teams played even ball for the next five minutes before the Bulldogs closed the half netting the final six points to take a 29-16 halftime advantage.

 

Florida had the ball for the last possession of the period with the ability to cut its deficit to single digits. Instead, the Gators committed their 12th turnover of the half with an errant pass at the top of the key and Anne Marie Armstrong picked off the pass and dribbled the length of the court and dropped in a layup with one second remaining.

 

The Gators recovered to hit 25 percent of their shots in the half after a woeful start and held a 19-16 rebounding margin, with Lanita Bartley actually collecting a half-high six.

 

The Gators return to action on Sunday, when the team plays host to LSU in the O’Connell Center with tip-off set for 1 p.m. Comcast Sports South (CSS) will televise the game live, while the radio broadcast can be heard live in Gainesville on WBXY-FM 99.5 “The Star” and thru the internet at www.GatorZone.com, the official website of the Florida Gators.

 

The game is a “Family 4 Pack Sunday” event, where those participating receive four general admission tickets, four hot dogs and four sodas for $20.

 

Alligator Alley also will be open pregame inside the O’Connell Center from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Fans can check www.GatorZone.com for more information about the fun before the game.

 

Champions of Character will be honored at halftime and those attending can check-in beginning at 12:30 p.m. inside the Gate 2 lobby.

 

Fans can stick around after the game for autographs with the entire Gator squad, who will be at the Gate 4 lobby signing the team’s schedule poster.

 

 

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