Thursday February 9, 2012Florida's Defense Leads to Third Consecutive Win, Gators Defeat Auburn, 70-56
Lanita Bartley recorded 17 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Senior Lanita Bartley (Jacksonville, Fla.) led the Gators in scoring for the second straight game with 17 points and Florida earned a 70-56 victory over Auburn Thursday evening at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
The victory was the third consecutive for the Gators (16-8, 6-5 Southeastern Conference), who used strong defense throughout and forced 22 Auburn turnovers that led to 26 points. Florida was also able to get out in transition and score 13 fast-break points, compared to just two for the Tigers (11-14, 3-9 SEC).
The Gators and Tigers exchange buckets for the majority of the first half, when there were five lead changes and six tied scores, with the lead getting no larger than five for either team.
With Auburn holding a 29-27 lead with 2:26 remaining in the opening period, Florida went on a 7-2 run to end the half and headed into the locker room with a 36-31 lead.
The backcourt of Deana Allen (Houma, La.), Bartley and Jaterra Bonds (Gainesville, Fla.) led the way for the Gators during the first 20 minutes, when the trio combined for 27 first-half points. Allen finished with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the floor in addition to three assists and three steals in 23 minutes of action. Bonds tallied 12 points, converting 4-of-5 shots, with a team-high four assists, as the Gators dished 18 in the game.
“Tonight our guards took the torch and really set the tone – the way we played defense the last two minutes of the first half really set the tone for the game,” UF coach Amanda Butler said. “It was a very good win. I didn’t think that we played our best, but I think it’s a good indication when you feel that way. We did a good job of establishing ourselves in the paint with the dribble – and that makes us tough to prepare for.”
Bonds started that final spurt with an acrobatic layup and drew contact and Allen followed with a steal on the other end of the floor and dished to Jordan Jones (Suwanee, Ga.) for the layin and forced an Auburn timeout. Jennifer George (Orlando, Fla.) then stole the ball from Parrisha Simmons and Florida took advantage as Bonds nailed a three-pointer on another assist from Allen and the Gators held a 43-29 lead with 1:04 remaining.
Blanche Alverson, who finished with a game-high 19 points, converted a jumper to halt Florida’s run, but Ndidi Madu (Antioch, Tenn.) found George under the basket and completed the high-low game that ended the first half’s scoring.
The Gators continued their momentum at the start of the second half by scoring the first seven points and pushing their lead to 15 points, 43-31, with 18:04 remaining in the game.
“I thought they took the momentum,” Auburn coach Nell Fortner said. “The last two minutes of the first half really gave them momentum. Once they went on that 10-0 run we couldn’t really quite get back from it.”
Florida’s defensive pressure kept the Tigers from converting a field goal for more than three and a half minutes, a span that covered the end of the first half and into the second. The Gators continued to get offensive contributions from every position, as nine out of the 10 Gators who suited up scored and helped maintain a double-digit lead for the remainder of the contest.
Auburn cut Florida’s lead to 11 points with 12:06 remaining, but freshman Andrea Vilaró Aragonés (Barcelona, Spain) answered with a three-pointer, before Tiger rookie Hasina Muhammad sank a layup and kept the Gator lead at 12 points, 53-41, with 11:11 to play.
That’s when Florida mounted a 10-4 spurt for a 63-45 advantage and took an 18-point lead, its largest of the game, with 5:25 remaining and Auburn never recovered.
Jones capped that final run with a free throw, marking her 900th career point at UF, as her overall career total swelled to 1,319.
A three-point basket from the wing by Allen with 1:25 remaining in the game extended the lead to 68-51 and ended any hopes for an Auburn comeback. With Bonds converting two free throws from the line with 45 seconds remaining in the game, the Gators reached the 70-point mark for the fourth straight game.
George collected a team-high eight rebounds, helping Florida to a 36-35 rebounding edge. The Gators also shot a steady 44.8 percent (26-58) for the game, including an 8-of-17 effort from the three-point arc.
Auburn shot 48 percent (12-25) in the first half and finished with a 39.2 percent clip.
The Gators begin a two-game road trip that begins on Sunday, Feb. 12, when the team travels to Columbia, S.C., to play the 24th-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks (18-6, 7-4 SEC), with tip-off scheduled for 5 p.m.
The contest will air live on ESPN2, while streaming video on www.ESPN3.com. The radio broadcast can be heard live in Gainesville on WBXY-FM 99.5 The Star and on 104.9-FM, as well as in Jacksonville on AM930 WFXJ. That audio broadcast also can be heard live through the internet at www.GatorZone.com, the official website of the Florida Gators.
*After recording one block tonight, Azania Stewart has blocked a shot in 23 consecutive games. Stewart now has 190, third-best in school history
*With three blocks against Auburn, Jennifer George increases her career total to 123 and moves into fifth place passing Gator All-American and U.S. Olympian Tammy Jackson’s 121
*Lanita Bartley, who scored a team-high 17 points, recorded her fourth straight double-figure scoring game, the longest such streak of her career. Bartley now has 11 double-digit scoring outputs this season and 21 in her career
*Bartley has tied her career-high of three three-point field goals in three of the last four games
*Deana Allen’s 14 points marks her first double-figure scoring game since January 12th at Georgia. Allen has eight games with 10 or more points this season
*After scoring six points in the win over Auburn, Jordan Jones now has 900 total points at UF and 1,319 points in her career
Florida Head Coach Amanda Butler
“It was a very good win. I didn’t think that we played our best, but I think it’s a good indication when you feel that way. We did a good job of establishing ourselves in the paint with the dribble – and that makes us tough to prepare for.
“Tonight our guards took the torch and really set the tone – the way we played defense the last two minutes of the first half really set the tone for the game.”
On outscoring Auburn in the paint:
“Our team just plays so hard all the time. It’s so rewarding to see a column like that have a big number, because even with numbers don’t go our way effort is something that shows how hard we work. We had great awareness of where each other were, which I believe is an indication of the chemistry that we have on our team.”
On the team’s run at the end of the first half:
“I think the way that we closed out the first half – that’s who we are, that’s how we play. That is how it looks when we play our best. So I told the girls to start the second half with the way we left the first, and they did just that.”
On the seniors:
“There is just a really keen sense of awareness amongst them, that no matter how great of a motivator as a coach – that feeling in February as a senior – you just know that this is your moment, this is it.
“Our seniors are doing a great job of leading and showing how important each of those moments are. Winning three games in a row comes from not only our urgency in playing, but really from our urgency in preparing for the game. I think that is distributed amongst everybody, especially our seniors.”
On the three-game win streak:
“It’s hard to say that it’s one thing. I would just credit the team with having a great resilient spirit, and not allowing disappointment to get in the way of everything. I think it is credited some to senior leadership, some to great scouts by my assistant coaches and truly embracing how good we can be when we play how we expect to play.”
On looking further into the season:
“What we see moving forward is that we play South Carolina next, and that’s it. They’ve been proven to be one of the best teams in the conference. They’re really good and they’ll be good on their home floor. We’ll go and try to be better from when we played them the first time. It really doesn’t go beyond Columbia, S.C. tonight.”
On Jaterra Bonds:
“I thought she picked her parts to attack. She was a big part of our guards establishing themselves in the paint. She does a great job of absorbing the game plan and learning from week-to-week. I think that she is really striving to make better decisions because she knows how important that is for us.”
On balanced scoring:
“We all know each other so well in league play so you have ideas of how you’ll play against certain teams. I think it makes it harder to scout Florida when you don’t know who you will have to clue-in on.
“I think if you had asked teams a month ago they would tell you that you can’t give Jordan Jones the ball, in December they would tell you that you need to guard Jennifer George and now it would probably be something about Lanita with her consecutive double-figure scoring.”
Redshirt-Senior Forward Ndidi Madu
On the start of the second half:
“We just knew that we had to start the second half better than the first half. We had to start with a defensive end. We had to have intensity.”
On how to continue the win-streak:
“We can’t get comfortable, we have to keep wanting more. Tonight we had a lot of turnovers, but we have to keep wanting to go more – to keep pushing forward. When we go into practice tomorrow we have to keep playing hard.”
Senior Guard Deana Allen
On her senior season coming to an end:
“It’s February, this is when you have to really buckle down. Everyone is putting in a collective effort. When everybody feels good about themselves, we’re a feel good team, and that is great for the Gators. When everyone is feeling confident in their game – we feed off of that and it makes us better.”
On scoring in double figures for the fourth consecutive game:
“My teammates are sharing the ball, which never hurts. Everybody is confident in me, and that helps a lot.”
Auburn Head Coach Nell Fortner
“I thought Florida’s defense was really good tonight, they really took us out of a lot of stuff offensively. They shot that three ball really well, that was tough defend tonight.”
On Florida’s run to close out the second half:
“I thought they took the momentum. The last two minutes of the first half really gave them momentum. Once they went on that 10-0 run we couldn’t really quite get back from it.”
On working against the press:
“The Florida guards are really quick…the passes could have been better, there’s no question.”
On Florida’s three point shooting:
“They hit ten of them against Ole Miss last week and they had eight tonight so they’re feeling pretty good from three.”
On the offense getting into a rhythm:
“They did a good job on Camille (Glymph), not letting her touch the ball. Yea, we never could find a rhythm…the guards are so quick. We couldn’t find a way to get people the ball. So, it’s always better to just keep trying to attack the basket.”
On Florida pulling away in the second half:
“They put the ball game away at that point; we just couldn’t guard them.”