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Azania Stewart posted her first double-double of the year.

Thursday February 2, 2012Women's Basketball Defeats LSU for First Win in Baton Rouge Since 1996

Baton Rouge, LA

Azania Stewart posted her first double-double of the year.

Azania Stewart (Wood Green, England) notched her first double-double of the season, Ndidi Madu (Antioch, Tenn.) scored a season-high 12 points and Florida defeated LSU, 73-64, at the Pete Maravich Center on Thursday evening for its first win in Baton Rouge since Jan. 21, 1996.

 

The Gators (14-8, 4-5 SEC), who led wire to wire against the Lady Tigers (14-8, 4-5 SEC), earned just their fourth-ever victory in Baton Rouge, halting an eight-game slide in the Maravich Center.

 

Thursday’s win capped a tough three-game Southeastern Conference road trip for Florida, which was coming off a heartbreaking 73-72 double-overtime loss at Arkansas where the Gators missed 14 free throws.

 

Against the Tigers, the Gators stepped up and answered each time LSU cut their lead to six points, the last time coming with 4:15 remaining in the game as the Tigers were in the midst of a 6-2 run.

 

Florida responded with a 6-0 spurt, with field goals from Jennifer George (Orlando, Fla.), Jaterra Bonds (Gainesville, Fla.) and Stewart, who put back an offensive rebound.

 

Stewart also was big on LSU’s next offensive possession, as she blocked two shots, marking the 21st consecutive game she has swatted at least one.

 

LSU scored the next two points of the game and cut Florida’s lead to seven points, 64-57, with 2:41 remaining, but Lanita Bartley came through with a tough driving layup. LSU star LaSondra Barrett netted her first field goal of the game, but Bartley answered again with two free throws, before Stewart snatched an air ball from a teammate and put it in as the shot clock was winding down, as she collected her 10th rebound to accompany her season-high 12 points, which happened to be her 700th career point, that resulted in the sixth double-double of her career. The points also gave Florida a 70-59 lead with 64 seconds remaining and the Gators hit 3-of-4 free throws to seal the victory.

 

“This was a total team effort in every way, starting with the way we prepared,” UF head coach Amanda Butler said. “The midset our team had in practice and not being discouraged when it would be real easy coming off that disappointment at Arkansas to linger. Throw on top of that a little extra adversity in not having Jordan Jones available tonight, this win couldn’t be better. I couldn’t be prouder. It’s an awesome team win. Historically, we haven’t played well here at LSU so it’s a great program win, as well.”

 

Jordan Jones (Suwanee, Ga.), the Gator’s second-leading scorer and top three-point threat, missed Thursday’s game because of a concussion incurred during UF’s game at Arkansas. Jones had started 43 consecutive games prior to being sidelined.

 

Florida came out a bit cold in the second half, hitting just 1-of-7 to start after converting 48.3 percent in the opening 20 minutes, but still held a 40-30 lead six minutes into the period.

 

The Gator’s cold spell continued with 2-for-11 from floor at the 11:57 mark of the game, but they began to slowly heat up, converting 11 of their final 14 shots of the game to hit 50 percent (27-54) overall, as well as 52 percent (13-25) in the second half.

 

“It was a shared responsibility,” Butler said of the shooting performance. “We had so much more focus on playing great defense than we did hitting shots. We just weren’t as concerned about that. We just were concerned with our defensive effort and executing that plan. We also wanted to focus on rebounding with them because they are quite a bit taller than us.”

 

Stewart scored 10 of her team-high tying 12 points in the second half, while Madu was the star of the first, when she scored all 12 of her season-high effort, nailing 5-of-7 from the floor during those opening 20 minutes when Florida found itself in foul trouble.

 

Lanita Bartley (Jacksonville, Fla.) added 10 of her 12 points in the second half, while Bonds dished a game-high five assists with nine points and Andrea Vilaró Aragonés (Barcelona, Spain) collected a career-best and game-high four of UF’s 11 steals.

 

Adrienne Webb scored a game-high 19 points, while Jeanne Kenney and Courtney Jones both added 10 points for LSU, which has lost five consecutive SEC games.

 

Less than eight minutes into the game, three Gators had been whistled for two personal fouls each, but that didn’t stop Florida from staying focused and maintaining a lead throughout the entire first half, taking a 33-24 advantage into the locker room.

 

Deana Allen, a native of Houma, La., located 58 miles outside of Baton Rouge, picked up two fouls in the first 1:58 of the game and an already shorten Gator bench got leaner as Allen had to come out of the game to prevent even more foul trouble.

 

Florida missed its first four shots from the floor before Madu knocked down a 15-footer. Azania Stewart (Wood Green, England) followed with a bucket inside, taking a great pass from Vilaró Aragonés with the shot clock winding down and Florida held the early lead.

 

Bianca Lutley knocked down a three-pointer for LSU, shortly before UF’s Lanita Bartley (Jacksonville, Fla.) was whistled for her second personal at the 15:22 mark, when two Gator seniors starters were forced to the bench with foul trouble.

 

George powered up a short shot, but LSU countered with one from Taylor Turnbow and the Gator’s lead remained at one. After Bonds converted a driving layup, George, who is UF’s leading scorer and rebounder, collected her second foul at the 12:08 mark and went to the pine.

 

LSU took advantage of George’s foul by knocking down two free throws and were back within one point.

 

Madu stepped up again and hit a mid-range jumper before nailing the third three-pointer of her career and gave Florida a 13-7 lead.

 

LSU scored again, before Bonds completed a three-point play and gave the Gators a seven-point lead with 9:11 on the clock.

 

The teams traded scores for the next minute, with Madu knocking down a 15-footer for the Gators.

 

With Florida holding a four-point advantage, the Gators used a 7-0 spurt over a 1:14 span thanks to jumpers from Bonds, who nailed one with her toe on the three-point arc, Madu with her second trey of the game and Vilaró Aragonés, and Florida held a 25-14 lead with 6:35 remaining in the first half.

 

LSU countered by scoring the next six points of the game, as Florida was carless with the ball and that led to a pair of uncontested Tiger layups.

 

Lily Svete (Granger, Ind.) halted the run with a three-pointer. Adrienne Webb followed with a short jumper, but Vilaró Aragonés nailed a three-pointer on a dish from Svete that gave Florida a 31-22 lead with 1:40 remaining in the first half.

 

The teams traded baskets to end the period, as Bartley capped the frame’s scoring with a driving layup with 24 seconds left.

 

“When one person went out of the game, another person came in and stepped up,” Butler said. “Vila (Andrea Vilaró Aragonés) played great. Azania’s play was huge. Ndidi’s play was huge. Our seniors, collectively, were great. It’s hard to single out one or two players because it really was a team effort.”

 

Florida returns to action on Sunday, when the team plays host to Ole Miss in the O’Connell Center beginning at 2 p.m. ET. It will be Breast Cancer Awareness Day and all fans who wear pink receive $1 general admission. In addition the first 500 fans will receive a FREE We Play 4 Kay pink t-shirt to show their support of breast cancer awareness and survivors.

 

The game, which is Florida’s first home appearance  since its January 19 win against Alabama 17 days ago, also will be another popular FAMILY 4 PACK SUNDAY, where fans can purchase 4 general admission tickets, 4 hot dogs and 4 sodas for $20.

 

Alligator Alley also will be open prior to the game from 12:30-1:45 p.m., when fans can swing by the O’Connell Center’s Dance Studio and make signs, play interactive games and more!

 

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