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Jennifer George led UF with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Sunday February 12, 2012Florida Women's Hoops Falls Short at No. 24 South Carolina, 62-58

Columbia, SC

Jennifer George led UF with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

The University of Florida’s Jennifer George (Orlando, Fla.) posted her 13th double-double of the season, but the Gator’s poor first half led to a 62-58 setback at No. 24 South Carolina at Colonial Life Arena in front of a crowd of 6,517 on Sunday evening.

 

The loss snapped the Gator’s three-game win streak, as the Gamecocks (19-6, 8-4 SEC) swept the two-game season series by a total of nine points.

 

South Carolina sizzled with its shot during the first half, hitting 51.5 percent (17-33) overall that included a 7-of-10 effort from the three-point arc. It was the highest first-half efficiency by a Gator opponent this year and only the second time Florida has allowed a 50-percent shooting mark in the opening half. The seven treys were already the second-most the Gators had allowed in an entire game, as Pacific converted 11-of-16 from long range on Dec. 9.

 

Markeshia Grant, who finished with a game-high 20 points, did the most damage from beyond the arc, connecting on all four of her attempts to tallied 16 points, while Tina Roy, who hit 3-of-5 attempts from long range and scored all of her 11 points during those first 20 minutes.

 

The Gamecocks also had the edge on the boards, outrebounding the Gators by five, Florida’s second-largest margin deficit after the first 20 minutes of action this year. Only Kentucky on Jan. 1 held a larger advantage on the boards in the first half, collecting six more than Florida.

 

All of that resulted in a 43-33 halftime hole for Florida (16-9, 6-6 SEC), which was able to rally in the second half and outscore the Gamecocks, 25-19. The Gators even managed to tie the game at 54 with 6:33 remaining, but couldn’t find a way to take the lead.

 

“You have to give South Carolina a lot of credit for the way them came out and set the tone from the beginning,” UF head coach Amanda Butler said. “Their guards did a really, really good job of coming out and being aggressive and had us back on our heels. I thought we played a great second half, but you can’t play a soft 20 minutes against a really good team on its home floor and expect to come out with a win.

 

“I’m proud of our fight,” Butler continued. “I thought out post play was really tough, but 20 minutes of not playing how we practice was too much to overcome.”

 

After just committing just five turnovers in the entire first half, Florida began the second period with four in the first 4:10 and as a result managed to attempted only two shots.

 

South Carolina connected on only 1-of-7 shots during those opening minutes and Florida kept within striking range, still down 10 points, 45-35.

 

Deana Allen stepped up and nailed Florida’s third three-pointer of the game and followed on the other end of the floor with a steal and went the length of the court for the layup, but missed as she was fouled. She did hit one free throw and cut the Gator’s deficit to six points, 45-39, with 13:58 remaining.

 

The teams traded baskets for the next minute and a half and with South Carolina holding an eight-point cushion, George converted back-to-back inside jumpers and had Florida within four points, 49-45, with 11:11 to go.

 

South Carolina came right back with the next three points of the game and regained a seven-point advantage, before Jordan Jones knocked down a three from the right side and the Gators closed the gap to four points, 52-48, with 10:18 on the clock.

 

The teams again traded buckets for the next 19 seconds, before both teams went cold for the next two minutes.

 

Azania Stewart same up with a steal and Florida was able to get some points from it, as Allen found George underneath. Ieasia Walker followed with a jumper for SC, before The Gators ripped off a 6-0 run and tied the game on Allen’s jumper with 6:33 remaining.

 

Markeshia Grant nailed her first field goal of the second half, a three-pointer and Sutton hit two free throws and sent the home crowd into a frenzy, as the Gamecocks went back up by five with 4:39 on the clock.

 

George added two free throws for Florida at the 4:20 mark and had the Gators back within three, 59-56. Florida held defensively, but turned the ball over for the 14th time.

 

South Carolina wasn’t able to take advantage and eventually, Lanita Bartley came up with a steal and kept it the length of the court, where she powered up a layup and had Florida within one point, 59-58, with 2:04 remaining.

 

South Carolina called a timeout with one second on the shot clock and couldn’t get off a good shot and the Gators took possession with 1:29 to go.

 

Gator coach Amanda Butler didn’t like what she saw from her offense and called a timeout nine seconds into the set. Florida had two chances but neither shot fell and SC came up with the defensive board with one minute remaining.

Sutton came down and scored for the Gamecocks and Bartley was called for traveling with 29 seconds remaining, giving the ball back to the hosts, who led 61-58 with 32.3 seconds left.

 

Florida tried to foul, but couldn’t until there was 17.1 seconds remaining. Sutton missed the front end of the one-and-one, but the miss went out of bounds and went in favor of the Gamecocks.

 

South Carolina misplayed its inbounds and the Gators took over with 15 seconds left, as Bartley raced the length of the court and Florida called its final timeout with 11.1 seconds remaining.

 

Lily Svete came off the bench and got of a great look from beyond the three-point arc and the ball fluttered in and out, as Florida came up with its 13th offensive rebound, but didn’t connect on a shot underneath and had to foul Sutton with 1.4 seconds remaining.

 

The Gamecock senior clinched the game at the free throw line, where she hit the front end of the one-and-one and gave SC the four-point lead and its final margin.

 

George led Florida with 17 points and 10 rebounds, as the Gators managed to even up the rebounding by game’s end, but South Carolina still managed to converted 14 second-chance points, compared to Florida’s four.

 

Allen added 14 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals for the Gators, who shot 41.1 percent overall (23-56) from the floor for the game and held South Carolina to a 28 percent mark in the second half after such a solid shooting performance in the first half.

 

Bartley also chipped in 10 points with eight rebounds for Florida, which finished with 16 turnovers.

 

The Gators continue their tough two-game road swing against ranked opponents, playing No. 25 Vanderbilt on Thursday, February 16 in Nashville, where tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT and will be television live by FOX SportsSouth.

 

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