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Sunday February 26, 2012Florida Falls at Tennessee in Regular-Season Finale

Knoxville, TN

Sophomore Lily Svete (Granger, Ind.) scored a career-high and led Florid with 12 points but the Gators went cold from the floor in the final minutes and lost at No. 10/9 Tennessee, 75-59, at Thompson-Boling Arena Sunday afternoon in the regular-season finale for both teams.

 

Florida (18-11, 8-8 SEC) committed 20 turnovers that the Lady Vols (21-8, 12-4 SEC) converted into 10 points, as UT also benefitted from holding a 16-7 advantage in fast break points.

 

The Gators will be the No. 8 seed in the Southeastern Conference Tournament that begins Thursday, March 1 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Florida will play Auburn in the first round beginning at 1 p.m. ET/Noon CT.

 

Florida scored six straight points on scores from Ndidi Madu and Lanita Bartley and had the Gators within seven points, 51-44, with 9:45 remaining, and had two possessions to cut the into their deficit even further, but turned the ball over both times.

 

UT took advantage with four points and regained a double-digit lead, with six minutes on the clock.

 

Florida refused to fold, as Svete nailed a three-pointer and Jennifer George hit one free throw and the Gators were back within seven points with 7:18 remaining.

 

Again the Vols countered with four straight points, before Jordan Jones nailed her third trey of the game and Florida was down eight, 59-51, with 5:41 on the clock.

 

Shekinna Stricklen, who finished with 15 points and was one of five Lady Vols seniors who were honored in a pregame ceremony, quickly responded with a three-pointer and Ariel Massengale added two free throws and UT was back up by 13 points.

 

Florida made one last push, as George and Bartley scored and had the lead back within single digits with under three minutes to play. After UT answered and George added her 11th points of the game with 2:36 remaining, the Gators went cold. That was their final field goal, as the Lady Vols finished with nine consecutive points and their lead swelled to 18. Bartley tacked on two free throws for the final scores.

 

“I didn’t think we ever really went away, we kept playing,” UF head coach Amanda Butler said. “I’m just really disappointed with our defensive effort. A lot of the things we’re really got at we didn’t show tonight. We didn’t show up and execute on the defensive end. We haven’t given up 75 points in a really long time so that’s a really disappointing defensive effort.”

 

George finished with her SEC-leading 14th double-double of the season as she contributed 11 points and 11 rebounds, while Bartley added 11 points and four assists. Jones finished with nine points and two steals for Florida, which shot 37.9 percent overall from the floor, including a 5-of-24 effort from the three-point arc.

 

Jordan Jones struck first for the Gators, nailing an uncontested 25-footer that began the game’s scoring. Tennessee responded with a 15-0 run, during when Florida committed four turnovers that led to nine points, while being out-rebounded 7-3 and missing seven shots, while calling two timeouts.

 

Ndidi Madu finally ended the Gator’s offensive draught with an inside bucket at the 13:32 mark. Sophomore Lily Svete followed with a three-pointer shortly after entering the game and cut Florida’s deficit to seven points, 15-8, with 12:12 remaining in the half.

 

The Lady Vols came right back with a jumper in transition from Alicia Manning, but Jennifer George took a great pass from Andrea Vilaró Aragonés, before Jordan Jones canned her second trey of the game and Florida was within four points, 17-13, with 9:59 to go in the period.

 

The teams then traded scores for the next three minutes before UT converted back-to-back buckets and held an eight-point advantage.

 

Deana Allen swished in a deep jumper with her toe on the three-point arc, but the Lady Vols again responded with an 18-footer from Cierra Burdick and kept the difference at eight points.

 

Madu then added an inside basket and George tacked on one free throw and Florida was back within five points, 27-22, with 3:27 remaining.

 

From there, Florida went cold from the floor for the rest of the half, converting just 1-of-5, with Svete’s inside bucket the Gator’s only field goal. The Gators also had the ball with a chance for the last shot, but came down with 21 seconds to go and put up a quick attempt, which was off the mark and Glory Johnson sank a fastbreak layup for her 12th point of the game with four seconds remaining and the Lady Vols headed into the locker room with the 35-24 lead.

 

UT turned Florida’s nine turnovers into 13 points, while earning 12 fast break points compared with none for the Gators.

 

Florida was 3-of-14 from the three-point arc and 10-of-30 overall.

 

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