Sunday February 19, 2012Women's Hoops Knocks Off No. 18/15 Georgia on Senior Day, 61-57
Senior Day: Jordan Jones, Ndidi Madu, Azania Stewart, Deana Allen and Lanita Bartley
The University of Florida women’s basketball team regrouped from Sunday’s heartbreaking setback at Vanderbilt and earned a 61-57 victory against No. 18/15 Georgia in front of a season-best crowd of 3,049 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center Sunday afternoon when it was Senior Day.
Junior forward Jennifer George (Orlando, Fla.) led the Gators in scoring for the second consecutive game, netting nine of her 15 points and pulling down five her of six rebounds in the second half when the Gators (17-10, 7-7 SEC) shot 44 percent (11-25) from the floor and outrebounded the Lady Bulldogs (20-7, 9-5 SEC) by seven. Lanita Bartley (Jacksonville, Fla.) added 11 points and four rebounds to the mix, as she converted 9-of-10 free throws, including all four attempts from the line in the final eight seconds to seal the victory. Freshman Andrea Vilaró Aragonés (Barcelona, Spain) chipped in a career-best 10 points off the bench, while pulling down a career-high-tying four rebounds.
The Gators were coming off a tough six-point loss at No. 24 Vanderbilt, when the Commodores tossed in a wild three-point shot at the buzzer that sent the game into overtime, while it was discovered too late that 14 seconds had not run off the clock during the final 75 seconds of regulation.
“Obviously I’m just really, really proud and happy for our team,” said UF head coach Amanda Butler, who won her 95th game on the Gator sideline. “One of the things we talked about a lot was that we were prepared for this game. What we talked about, even after our disappointment the other day (Thursday’s loss at Vanderbilt), was that they get what they deserve and that is absolutely what happened today. This team, and in particular, these seniors, got what they deserved. When you look at this game statistically, I think that’s who we are - from the way we shot the ball, winning the rebounding battle, the consistency and balance and all those kids of things. The most important part of that, the part that I’m most proud of is that they made that happen.
“A lesser team would have folded under what we have experienced in the past two days and coming off the disappointment we have,” Butler continued. “It’s fitting. It’s also that we had a great opportunity against a team like Georgia and that brings the attention to this team that they deserve.”
Each of the last seven meetings between the two teams has been decided by single digits and Sunday’s contest was every bit as intense, featuring 15 lead changes and nine tied scores.
After Khaalidah Miller’s jumper game Georgia a six-point lead – it’s largest of the game – with 3:33 remaining in the first half, Florida answered with the final eight points of the half and took a 27-25 lead entering the locker room.
Jordan Jones (Suwanee, Ga.), one of five Gator seniors who were honored in a postgame ceremony, began the second half with a three-pointer and gave Florida what would be its biggest lead of the game, 30-25, with 19:32 remaining.
From there, it was a possession-by-possession game and the lead changed hands eight times and score was tied on six occasions.
In what was her best offensive game of her young career, Vilaró Aragonés drained a three-pointer with 9:39 remaining and extended Florida’s lead to four, 46-42.
Georgia, which had entered the game on a four-game win streak, scored the next four points and tied the game for the ninth game. Jones nailed her second trey of the half and kept the Gators in the lead, but the Bulldogs came right back and eventually tied the score at 51 with 6:29 remaining.
Bartley added a layup and swung the lead back in Florida’s favor, but Jamine Hassell followed with a jumper and another lead change, 54-53, with 2:47 on the clock.
George countered with a jumper in the paint and gave the Gators a 55-54 lead and added another 1:20 later that put Florida ahead by three with 1:09 remaining.
Georgia missed on its ensuing offensive possession and George hauled in the miss for her team-leading sixth rebound of the game, helping Florida outrebound the Bulldogs, 42-32.
Georgia wasn’t able to connect on another shot and was forced to foul Bartley with eight seconds remaining the Gators holding a three-point lead. The Gator senior calmly nailed both, before Meredith Mitchell sank a three-pointer for the Dawgs, who were back within two with four ticks left. Bartley again was fouled and made both ends of the one-and-one to give Florida a four-point lead and seal the victory.
The Bulldogs were led by Jasmine James’ 15 points, while Anne Marie Armstrong added 12 points and a game-high seven rebounds.
The Gators play their regular-season finale on Thursday, Feb. 23, when they host Mississippi State at 7 p.m. The audio of the game will be broadcast on the Gator Radio Network, which can be heard live on www.GatorZone.com, the official website of the Florida Gators. While there won’t be live television coverage, live streaming video will be available thru www.GatorVision.tv.
Postgame Notes & Quotes:
Florida Head Coach Amanda Butler
“Obviously I’m just really, really proud and happy for our team. One of the things we talked about a lot was that we were prepared for this game. What we talked about, even after our disappointment the other day (Thursday’s loss at Vanderbilt), was that they get what they deserve and that is absolutely what happened today. This team and in particular, these seniors, got what they deserved. When you look at this game statistically, I think that’s who we are: the way we shot the ball, winning the rebounding battle, the consistency and balance and all those kids of things. The most important part of that, the part that I’m most proud of is that they made that happen.
“A lesser team would have folded under what we have experienced in the past two days and coming off the disappointment we have. It’s fitting. It’s also that we had a great opportunity against a team like Georgia and that brings the attention to this team that they deserve.”
“I thought our first effort was good, but our second effort was better. In the first half it didn’t seem like we were jumping up and getting a bunch of rebounds, but when the ball game down it was somehow in our hands. I just thought we were really tenacious on the boards and persistent. We didn’t just go away when someone had us boxed out. Again, against a great team and one that’s a little bit bigger that us, that’s how you have to rebound – with a little bit of a chip on your shoulder and I think that’s what we did.”
On the win…
“There were a lot of broken hearts after Nashville and it just seemed unfair. It was all about getting back on our feet. You couldn’t have had a better combination of things happen today.”
Florida junior Jennifer George
On getting the win…
“I think we are one of the hardest working teams in the SEC and just for us to get the reward today, it feels good.”
On refusing to lose…
“We have had so many challenges in the past with our close losses that we were at a point where we refused to lose.”
Florida senior Jordan Jones
On the win…
“It’s huge. You always want to win on Senior Day, that makes after the game that much more enjoyable. Aside from that, any opportunity to beat Georgia is huge and that’s a great win for us against a ranked opponent and that’s momentum to build on toward the future.”
On the crowd…
“They were huge. I wish I could thank each individual person who came today. It’s huge. You could hear them. It was exciting to play in front of them and play our senior day in front of them.”
On heading into the game today…
“Coach Butler gave us the challenge, that some people fold and some rise above this and bounce back to show what their made of in the next game. We had so many close losses and faced so much adversity and each time we’ve bounced back and given someone more than they gave us the night before. It’s just the way our team is and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Florida freshman Andrea Vilaró Aragonés
“We are working so hard during the week. We are shooting more free-throws and threes and I am feeling good right now.”
Florida senior Lanita Bartley
On wanting the ball in her hands at the end and hitting the clinching free throws …
“I just make sure I get open because Coach always tells me I need to get the ball. I was hitting free throws so I just demanded the ball.”
Georgia Head Coach Andy Landers
On Florida’s 8-0 run to end the first half …
"Well, sure but it wasn’t the end of the world. It was one half of a game that we felt would be competitive and it was. We felt good. We were playing on the road in a two-point game at half time. There wasn’t anybody hanging there head and I wasn’t upset about that. We go on a little run to go up and they go on a little run to get it back."
On what he felt was the final difference…
"Rebounding. They got offensive rebounds and we didn’t. We gave up far too many threes. I’m not talking about hits, I’m talking about totals. We gave up 19 threes. Those two things, I think, were the difference."
*Sunday afternoon’s game had a season-high attendance of 3,049
*Jaterra Bonds has started 27 consecutive games and is the only Gator to start every game this season
*Jennifer George’s 15 points gives her exactly 800 for her career. George also surpassed 600 career rebounds and now has a career total of 604.
*George now has a team-high 19 double-figure scoring games this season
*Azania Stewart surpassed the century mark for career assists and now has 101 in her career.
*Lanita Bartley had converted on a team-high 13 consecutive free throws until her miss with 16:49 left in the first half
*Lily Svete tied her season-high with three rebounds
*Andrea Vilaró Aragonés set a career-high with 10 points on four-of-nine shooting including a career-high-tying two three-pointers
*the win was the 95th Gator win for head coach Amanda Butler, who is in her fifth year at her alma mater
*the victory was Florida’s 27th against a nationally-ranked team when the Gators were unranked
*the win also was UF’s 47th all-time upset victory against a higher-ranked team
Scores of Other SEC Games Played Sunday:
Tennessee d. OLE MISS, 66-56
ARKANSAS d. Mississippi State, 67-53
LSU d. Auburn, 57-41
South Carolina d. ALABAMA, 69-55