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Sydney Moss tallied her first career double-double in the win.

Friday November 23, 2012Carlie Needles' Late Three-Pointer Lifts Gators over N.C. State, 66-64

Las Vegas

Sydney Moss tallied her first career double-double in the win.

Carlie Needles (Highlands Ranch, Col.) hit a three-pointer with six seconds remaining and helped the Florida women’s basketball team earn a hard-fought 66-64 victory against N.C. State on Friday in the first day of action at the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout at the South Point Arena in Las Vegas.


There were 14 lead changes and 13 tied scores in the game, as the Gators improved to 4-1 this season and handed the Wolfpack (4-1) their first loss of the year.


With N.C. State using a 7-0 run to take a 54-49 lead with 5:58 remaining, Florida’s Vicky McIntyre (Omaha, Neb.) hit an 8-foot baseline jumper to halt the spurt and spark a 5-1 march for the Gators, who closed to within 55-54 with 4:30 on the clock.






The Wolfpack came right back with an offensive rebound putback by Kody Burke, but the Gators rallied as Jaterra Bonds (Gainesville, Fla.) converted two free throws, Sydney Moss (Union, Ky.) banked in a six-foot pull-up jumper on a fast break and Jennifer George (Fresno, Calif.) hit one free throw and Florida took a 59-57 advantage with 2:37 remaining.


As the entire game flowed, both teams answered each other’s run with one of their own and N.C. State came right back with one free throw followed by a three-pointer from Marissa Kastanek and the Pack regained the lead, 61-59, with 1:43 to play.


Florida called a timeout to settle and Needles came out of the 30-second break nailing her second of three three-pointers and swung the lead back to the Gators, 61-62, with 59 seconds remaining.


N.C. State then called a timeout and Florida seemed to play solid defense, as Burke missed an outside jumper that was tipped, but the Gators couldn’t find the flailing ball in the air, as it landed right into Markeisha Gatling’s waiting arms under the basket and she put in the short uncontested jumper that gave the Pack the lead with 42 seconds left.


Florida missed its shot on its next offensive possession and N.C. State collected the rebounded and the Gators were forced to foul Kastanek because the shot clock was off with 21 seconds. Kastanek made the first but missed the second and the Pack held a 64-62 lead.


That set up Needles’ three-point heroics, as she calmly nailed it from the left corner while standing directly in front of the Gator bench, as Florida took the 65-64 lead.


After the Pack called a timeout, they turned the ball over dribbling up the court and were forced to foul Moss, who sank one of two with 0.9 seconds remaining for the final score.


“This was a really a gutsy performance and I could not be more proud of how we handled the adversity of a lot of moments because we certainly did not control the ballgame, it was back and forth,” UF head coach Amanda Butler said. “I thought we did a really good job of keeping our composure, especially on defense because this is a very talented N.C. State team. You have to give a lot of credit to N.C. State for their fight. I was really proud of our defense. This N.C. State team has scored in the 80s in every game except for the one time when they scored over one hundred points. When you can hold a team like that in the 60s, take care of the basketball and pay attention to details they you have a chance to win every single night.”


Moss led Florida with a career-high 15 points and collected 10 rebounds to post the first double-double of her young career, while collecting four steals. George added 13 points with seven rebounds, four steals, three blocks and two assists.


Needles finished with nine points all from beyond the arc and all nine Gators who entered the game scored.


Florida shot 45.8 percent (27-59) for the game, including a mere 21.1 percent (4-19) from the three-point arc.


“We shot way too many three-pointers in the first half and have to use much better judgment from beyond the arc,” Butler said. “Carlie’s shot was huge. She never hesitated and I loved her confidence.”


The Wolfpack, who held the 41-38 rebounding advantage, in the game, hit 39.1 percent from the floor, including 3-of-13 from long range.


“We still lost the rebounding battle, but we certainly gained ground in the second half,” Butler said. “That was one of our halftime adjustments. If we continued to get dominated in the second half like we had been in the first we would have a much different result.”


Freshman January Miller (Orlando, Fla.) came off the bench and sparked the Gators midway through the second half, as she helped UF overcome a 6-2 run that had the momentum shift in N.C. State’s favor. The Gator rookie checked in and collected a quick offensive rebound and kept the possession alive as fellow freshman Christin Mercer (Douglasville, Ga.) powered up an inside bucket after a great dish from Bond and tied the game. Miller then ran the floor after a Wolfpack miss and Bonds rewarded her with the pass that she converted into a layup that gave the Gators the two-point lead.


The first half was just as exciting. Florida led the majority of the frame and held a 22-14 lead with 8:43 to play before N.C. State erased the entire advantage with a 10-2 march. The teams traded baskets for the next couple of minutes and the game was tied with 1:38 left in the period.


With 54 seconds remaining in the first half, N.C. State’s Krystal Barrett scored her eighth points of the period on a driving layup to break the 28-all tie.


Kayla Lewis was fouled with 31.8 seconds on the clock; missed the shot and was sent to the line where she made one free throw, missed the second. Jennifer George corralled the offensive board and Florida had the ball for the last shot of the period. The Gators had three short shots under the basket but none would drop and the Wolfpack took the 30-29 lead into the locker room.


Eight of the nine Gators who played in the first 20 minutes scored, with Jennifer George leading the way with eight points, two blocks and a pair of steals. Sydney Moss added six points and collected a team-best seven rebounds, however Florida trailed on the boards overall, 24-21, with NCSU grabbing 10 on the offensive end.


N.C. State’s Kody Burke led all scorers in the game with 21 points and 13 rebounds, while Barrett added 11 points, eight of those in the first half.


The Gators continue action at the tournament on Saturday when they play Northern Iowa (2-1) beginning at 3 p.m. ET (Noon PT). The Panthers lost to Arizona State, 66-63, in a tight game on Friday.


The radio broadcast of the game can be heard live in Gainesville on The Star 99.5 FM and through the internet free of charge via, the official website of the Florida Gators.




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