Friday November 9, 2012Women's Basketball Debuts Young Team and Success in Win Against Fairfield, 71-49
Freshman Sydney Moss had a solid collegiate debut with 9 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists.
Freshman Sydney Moss (Union, Ky.) nearly had a triple-double in her Gator debut Friday night as her nine points, 10 rebounds and nine assists helped the University of Florida women’s basketball team to a 71-49 season-opening win over Fairfield in the O’Connell Center.
Moss, who logged 29 minutes in her first collegiate game, stepped up big for the Gators with her all-around play, but it was the play of many new Gator faces that contributed to the solid 22 point victory. Junior Vicky McIntyre (Omaha, Neb.) and sophomore Kayla Lewis (Decatur, Ga.) led the Gators in scoring with 12 each, while it was Moss who controlled the boards and led all players with her 10 rebounds.
It was very much a team-effort on the court Friday as all nine players who dressed out recorded at least three points in the scorebook. For Moss, her nine assists not only led the team, but it was the most for a Gator in her debut since Sarah Lowe recorded six against Lamar on November 24, 2002.
““There are a lot of things about this team that will emerge as strengths,” Florida head coach Amanda Butler said. “We had some great individual performances, but I think that is going to be what makes us hard to guard each and every night. It is going to be really tough to focus in on just one person. Especially starting the season with as much attention as Jennifer has received with her being our only senior has created a little bit of a misperception that if you can stop Jennifer George then you can stop Florida. These guys showed that we are much more than a one dimensional team.”
For Butler, it was also her 99th win as the Gator head coach in her career, putting her one shy of the century mark.
The new-look Gators got a quick start from some of their new faces early in the game. Moss scored the first Florida points of the season after scoring on a put-back of her own shot, but Fairfield actually held the early lead before the first break in the game.
Florida started to get warm after a turnaround jumper from McIntyre followed by a steal and a fast-break layup by freshman Chandler Cooper (Clarksville, Tenn.) to give the Orange and Blue the 6-5 lead, its first lead of the game going into the first media timeout.
The Stags had a hot hand early on going up by as much as six through the first five minutes, but UF started to find its shooting touch just before the midway point of the first half and went on an 11-0 run to re-take the lead at 20-15 with 10:10 to go in the first half.
During that run, freshman Carlie Needles (Highlands Ranch, Col.) also got her first points as a Gator with a three-pointer from the right wing off a nice assist from Cooper. Those points were then followed by another three-ball, this time from Lewis to tie the game at 15. McIntyre dropped in another bucket down low before another three from Lewis to complete the run.
Three-pointers were a common occurrence for UF early as three of its first seven made shots from the field all were from behind the arc. For the half, Florida shot nearly 46 percent on three-pointers (5-of-11).
Fairfield was able to score five straight points to get the game back even at 20 with 6:42 to go in the half, but it would be the last points the Stags scored until nearly halftime.
The Gators behind strong defense were able to cause a number of turnovers and went on a 14-0 run over three minutes of play to break the game wide open. Five different Gators scored during the run to take a 34-20 lead with 3:45 to play in the half. Fairfield did score two more buckets before the first half buzzer, but it was the Gators who had the nice 34-24 lead at the break.
Defense and a quick pace was the key to UF taking a big lead into halftime as it caused 13 Fairfield turnovers and scored 19 points off of those turnovers.
Lewis led all scorers in the first frame with 10 points, followed by McIntyre, who added in eight points and was 4-of-6 from the field. As a team, Florida was 13-of-33 (39.4%) from the field and held Fairfield to 18 percent three-point shooting.
Out of the locker room in the second half, Florida had a little trouble pulling away from the Stags as the lead dropped down to as low as five points with 12:10 to go in the game, but freshman Christin Mercer (Douglasville, Ga.) got in on the action as she drained three straight buckets for the Gators to push their lead back to double-digits at 52-42 with 8:56 to play. Mercer ended up with eight points in the game and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field.
The five-point deficit earlier in the second half was the closest Fairfield got for the remainder of the game as Florida continued to play with pressing defense and fast break scoring. As a team, UF scored 14 points on fast break and 31 points off Fairfield’s 24 turnovers.
For the remaining eight minutes in the game, Florida kept its lead above double-digits as both team’s traded buckets for over three minutes. After a made layup by Fairfield’s Katie Cizynski to make the score 56-46 with 6:34 to play, UF went on a big scoring spree to end the game. 13 of the final 16 points in the game went for the Orange and Blue as the final buzzer sounded with the 22-point win, which was its biggest lead of the night.
The Gators finished the game shooting an even 46 percent from the field and was a solid 6-of-19 from behind the three-point line. The solid defense that included 16 steals held Fairfield to 19-of-56 and 18 percent three-point shooting.
Florida returns to the court this Sunday when it takes on Georgia State inside the O’Connell Center with tip slated for 1 p.m. It will be the first game of a Gator double-header as the men’s team will also be playing its first home regular season game against Alabama State starting at 3:30 p.m. Fans can purchase a ticket to the women’s game only until halftime of the contest.
Florida head coach Amanda Butler
“I think we learned a lot about ourselves tonight and it was really important. We were challenged in some specific ways, some that we expected and some that we didn’t. Obviously not having Jennifer makes us a little bit of a different team and not having Jaterra because of the foul situation was an extra challenge and was proud of the way our kids handled that adversity because that certainly could have been a thing that made us not confident, but I think we did a great job. Carlie in particular really stepped up and filled in that gap with minutes and on the defensive end did a great job. I think it was a fantastic debut for all these new faces and just really proud that we could start off in a fine fashion.”
On even scoring distribution:
“There are a lot of things about this team that will emerge as strengths. We had some great individual performances, but I think that is going to be what makes us hard to guard each and every night. It is going to be really tough to focus in on just one person. Especially starting the season with as much attention as Jennifer has received with her being our only senior has created a little bit of a misperception that if you can stop Jennifer George then you can stop Florida. These guys showed that we are much more than a one dimensional team.”
On the defensive pressure and points off turnovers:
“I was really proud of our defensive effort and I think that we’re hard on them because we almost want it to be perfect and we see what they are capable of doing. I thought we did a really good job of playing our defensive concepts and trying to get in those passing lanes and the biggest part of that is how much respect we have for Fairfield because we knew that they were a team with great shooters and if you lack positioning they are just going to burn you so we really did a lot of preparation. I thought we did a really good job and we knew if we did that we would get a lot of easy points.”
Gator Freshman Sydney Moss
On contributing in other ways than scoring:
“My grandpa told me one time when I was playing AAU that if I am not scoring I should at least contribute to the team whether it is rebounds, assists, or good defense. Even though I wasn’t scoring I tried to contribute to the team.”
Gator Freshman Chandler Cooper
On experiencing college basketball for the first time:
“It was good to get my feet wet. We have had a couple scrimmages, but the game does not even compare to the scrimmages and that is nothing against Clemson or Stetson, but actually coming in here in this environment for the first time was really good and just the whole atmosphere.
Fairfield head coach Joe Frager
About Katelyn Linney
“This is a quantum leap for her because she didn’t play a heck of a lot last year and to throw her into this environment on the road against an SEC school like that and for her to respond, I’m very proud of her effort today.”
About team’s performance
“We said we wanted to make them have to earn their points and we went through a couple of flurries there were we didn’t. They were able to get transition stuff and we turned it (the ball) over. When we were able to make them make them have to run their offense and when we were able to run our stuff, it was a good game but it wasn’t quite enough.”
For all of the latest information on Florida women’s basketball:
Official Website: www.gatorzone.com/basketball/women
Twitter: @GatorZoneWBK and @CoachButlerUF