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Lily Svete was a key in UF's first half lead.

Sunday January 29, 2012Gators Fall at Arkansas in Double Overtime, 73-72

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.

Lily Svete was a key in UF's first half lead.

Florida missed 14 free throws and Arkansas staged an improbable comeback as the Gators dropped a tough 73-72 double-overtime decision at Bud Walton Arena on Sunday afternoon.

 

Arkansas (16-5, 5-4 SEC), which entered Sunday’s contest having won its last four Southeastern Conference games by an average of 19 points per outing, rallied from an 11-point deficit with 4:25 remaining, as well as eight points down in the final 2:02 of regulation to force overtime, where the Gators (13-8, 3-5 SEC) missed 3-of-6 free throws in both extra frames, after converting only 5-of-13 during regulation.

 

Seven of Florida’s eight SEC games this season have been decided by six points or less.

 

The Gators missed two free throws in the final 2:02 of regulation, as well as six more in overtime period and wasn’t able to connect on a field goal attempt in the last 8:05 of the overtime periods, hitting just 2-of-9 attempts.

 

“It’s a colossal disappointment,” UF coach Amanda Butler said. “To play so well for so long, turn the ball over in some crucial moments and then not step up and hit free throws when we could have seemingly won comfortably. Arkansas is a great team. They were on a mission and did a great job.

 

“Free throw shooting is very contagious, makes or misses,” Butler continued. “You just have to be mentally tough to be able to step up and hit them in key moments, but really in the whole ball game.”

 

Arkansas closed regulation on an 11-1 run and sent the game into overtime. During that final span, Lanita Bartley hit one free throw that gave the Gators a 61-53 lead with 2:02 on the clock. Lyndsay Harris stepped up at the 1:48 mark and nailed her second three-pointer in a 64-second span that cut UF’s lead to five, as the Razorbacks quickly called a timeout after Harris’ make.

 

Nineteen seconds later, Arkansas fouled Jennifer George, who missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw attempt with 1:48 left in regulation.

 

C’eira Ricketts came down and nailed a three-pointer with 48 seconds remaining and had the Razorbacks with three points, 61-58, as Arkansas again called another timeout to set up its defense, which worked as Ashley Daniels stole the ball from Azania Stewart shortly after the Gators in-bounded the ball and found Rickets under the basket where she hit the layup with 39 seconds left and brought Arkansas within one point, 61-60.

 

Florida again turned the ball over in the backcourt and Arkansas capitalized as Sarah Watkins was fouled and made both free throws with 24 seconds remaining that gave the Razorbacks the 62-61 lead.

 

Jaterra Bonds then had a chance to redeem herself from the turnover just moments prior, as she was sent to the free throw line with five seconds remaining. The Gator sophomore missed the first attempt and Arkansas called its final timeout to try and ice Bonds, who converted the try and tied the game. Arkansas was unable to get off a final shot and the game went into overtime.

 

Arkansas made a free throw to begin the first five-minute overtime period, before Jordan Jones sank a layup with 4:23 remaining. Ashley Daniels followed 19 seconds later with one for the hosts and Arkansas took a one-point lead, 65-64.

 

Bartley was sent to the free throw line, where she made the first and missed the second at the 3:27 mark and tied the game. George collected the miss and Ndidi Madu nailed a 12-foot jumper from the right elbow that gave the Gators a 67-65 lead with 3:05 remaining. That, however, would be the last field goal for Florida for the rest of either overtime period.

 

Florida came away with a steal, but couldn’t take advantage, as Rickets hit a jumper and tied the game at 67 with 1:55 remaining in the first overtime.

 

Bartley was then fouled and sent to the line for two shots, where she made one with 1:35 on the clock. Arkansas again fouled, this time sending George to the line where she also made just one of two with 46 seconds remaining, as Florida held a 69-67 lead.

 

On Arkansas next offensive possession, Bonds fouled Watkins with 24 seconds remaining, and the Razorback junior nailed both to tied the game. Florida then brought the ball up the court and called a timeout with 9.8 seconds remaining to set up for a final shot, but Jones’ long three-point attempt was off the mark and the game entered a second overtime period.

 

Arkansas won the tip to begin the second overtime, but a quick jump-ball changed the possession arrow to Florida, as one of its three turnovers in the opening 1:14 of the double-overtime frame. The Gators weren’t able to take advantage until Rickets fouled Bartley, sending the Gator senior to the free throw line. Bartley missed the first but made the second to open the overtime scoring and give Florida a 70-69 lead with 3:45 remaining.

 

Stewart then blocked Robinson’s shot and Madu came up with the defensive rebound, as Watkins fouled Stewart on the other end of the floor. Stewart missed the first free throw but made the second to give Florida a 71-69 lead with 2:54 on the clock.

 

Bartley stole the ball from Ricketts off the inbound play and fed Stewart, who was fouled and returned to the charity stripe. Again, she made only one of two for the Gators, who were just 3-of-6 from the line during the first 2:20 of the second overtime and held a 72-69 lead instead of a six-point advantage.

 

There was a loose ball off the miss and it went in Arkansas’ favor. The Razorbacks couldn’t convert as Madu picked up Rickets’ miss. On the other end of the floor, Stewart was whistled for an offensive foul, her fifth personal of the game and went to the bench with 1:55 remaining.

 

Watkins then came down and converted a layup and cut Florida’s lead to one point, 72-71, with 1:37 remaining.

 

George had her shot under the basket blocked and Dominique Robinson came away with the defensive rebound.

 

It was finally Arkansas’ turn to miss at the free throw line, where Ricketts was off the mark on both of her attempts with 1:18 to go. Daniels was able to collect the offensive board, but Callie Berna’s three-pointer was off the mark and Madu came away with the defensive rebound and Florida clinging to a one-point lead with 1:10 seconds remaining.

 

Bonds missed her three-point attempt for Florida with 37 seconds left and Arkansas collected the miss, as Watkins found Daniels under the basket where she hit the game-winner as the shot clock expired with 7.3 seconds remaining.

 

Florida called a timeout to set up its final shot, but Arkansas’ defense got a couple deflections and the Gators were unable to get off a shot.

 

“It was a great women’s basketball game,” Butler said. “It’s a tremendous indication of how tough our league is. How strong our league is and how not just every game matters, but every possession matters in SEC play. None of those things can be taken for granted. Arkansas showed tremendous fight, to fight back in regulation and get themselves in position to tie the game and we just missed too many free throws, plain and simple. We can’t go into a great arena like this, with the loud crowd against a good team and miss 14 free throws and win a close game. It’s just going to be really hard to overcome.”

 

Bartley finished with a game-high 19 points and tied her career-high of five steals. She hit 6-of-7 from the floor, including a career-best 3-of-3 from the three-point arc, but was just 4-of-8 from the free throw line. Madu tied her season-high with 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting, while Jordan Jones added 10 points and tied her career-high of seven rebounds, but missed both free throw attempts.

 

Watkins led Arkansas with 17 points, converting 9-of-10 free throws for the Razorbacks who made 12-of-17 free throws and had all five starters reach double-figure scoring.

 

Florida shot a shot 54.8 percent from the floor during the first half, when it held a 38-26 lead. The team sank 38.1 percent in the second half and 22.2 percent (2-of-9) in the overtime periods. The Gators were 11-of-25 overall from the free throw line.

 

Arkansas was the opposite, hitting just 35.5 percent in the first half, before heating up with a 54.2 percent mark in the second and 44.4 percent (4-of-9) in overtime.

 

With both teams shooting lights out during the opening nine minutes of the game, neither was able to create any real separation from the other.

 

Jordan Jones, who had nailed a pair of three-pointers which included her 1,300th-career point, faked another long-range attempt and took a dribble closer to sink a 15-footer at the 11: 40 mark that gave Florida a 16-13 lead, its largest of the game to that point.

 

Quistelle Williams then banked in a turnaround 17-foot jumper and took the Gator lead back to one.

 

That’s when Florida staged a 15-2 run over the next 2:16 and held a 30-17 advantage. Lily Svete (Granger, Ind.) was the star of the spree, as she scored seven points in 62 seconds, topping her season-high of six during that march while giving the Gators a 23-17 lead.

 

Freshman Andrea Vilaró Aragonés (Barcelona, Spain) followed Svete’s individual spurt with a three-pointer from the fop of the arc, before Azania Stewart connected on an inside jumper and Ndidi Madu capped the run by taking a high-low feed from Stewart and sinking the shot under the bucket for the 13-point lead with 7:43 on the clock.

 

The teams trade scores for the remainder of the half, as Florida too a 38-26 lead into the locker room.

 

The Gator bench came alive and scored 20 points during the first 20 minutes.

 

Florida shot a sizzling 54.9 percent from the floor for the half, connecting on 17-of-31 and held a 20-15 rebounding edge. Arkansas hit 35.5 percent from the floor.

 

Florida concludes its three-game SEC road trip on Thursday, when it travels to Baton Rouge to play LSU at the Maravich Center, a place where the Gators have not won since Jan. 21, 1996.

 

 

Other SEC Games Played on Sunday

KENTUCKY d. Alabama, 82-68

Auburn d. OLE MISS, 67-54

VANDERBILT d. LSU, 81-72

SOUTH CAROLINA d. Mississippi State, 69-43

Tennessee d GEORGIA, 67-50

 

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