Saturday November 24, 2012Gators Defeat Northern Iowa Behind Balanced Scoring, Tough Defense, 80-63
Five Gators produced a double-figure scoring effort and Florida contained a dangerous three-point shooting team to earn a 80-63 win against Northern Iowa on Saturday in the second day of action at the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout at the South Point Arena in Las Vegas.
The Gators (5-1) won their third consecutive game by hitting 51.6 percent (33-64) of its shots from the floor and a steady 10-of-14 from the free throw line. Florida also limited the Panthers (2-3) to a 31.8 percent (7-22) mark from the three-point arc and held a 38-30 rebounding edge. The Gators forced 16 turnovers and converted those into 13 points.
Florida did committed 15 miscues, but UNI managed only four points off them. The Gators also held a 10-0 margin in fastbreak points.
“I thought this was a really solid team win,” UF head coach Amanda Butler said. “There are certainly areas where we have to improve. I thought we could have done a better job of defending the drive, but all and all we beat a very good team that poses some unique challenges to us, especially on defense. We had some spurts when we looked great and other spots that we have to fix. But again, that’s why you play such a challenging schedule this early in the season so you can find out what you do well and what you can’t do well yet so you still have practices to fix it.”
Freshman Carlie Needles (Highlands Ranch, Col.) scored a team-best 14 points, on 5-of-8 shooting that included a 3-of-6 effort from the three-point arc, while freshman January Miller (Orlando, Fla.) scored a career-high 12 points, hitting 6-of-8 form the floor and collecting four offensive rebounds.
Senior Naismith Player of the Year Candidate Jennifer George (Fresno, Calif.) scored 12 points with five rebounds despite foul trouble for the entire game. Sophomore Kayla Lewis (Decatur, Ga.) was close to a double-double with 11 points and a team-leading eight rebounds and junior Jaterra Bonds (Gainesville, Fla.) added 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting, while dishing five assists.
For the fourth time this season, freshman Sydney Moss (Union, Ky.) flirted with a triple-double, as she recorded eight points, seven assists and six rebounds along with four steals.
“I thought Kayla really stepped up from how she played yesterday (against N.C. State) and really made some plays in important moments,” Butler praised. “January Miller gave us some great minutes again today and did a fantastic job on the boards.”
UNI scored the first points of the game, but Florida answered with a 9-2 run and held an early 9-4 lead, as Lily Svete (Granger, Ind.) hit a three-pointer to begin the Gator scoring, followed by Bond’s layup after a steal and outlet from Moss and a pair of inside jumpers from George, who picked up two fouls during the opening 5:32 and went to the bench for the majority of the half.
The Panthers regrouped after the media timeout with George on the bench and scored the next seven points to take an 11-9 lead that forced Florida to call a timeout to settle, which it did by ripping off a 6-0 run to take a 21-14 advantage.
Jacqui Kalin halted the run with a three-pointer, but Lewis hit one free throw and Bonds converted a jumper and Florida regained a seven-point advantage.
UNI hit two free throws before Mercer canned two for the Gators and Moss collected a steal after a great defensive stand and went the length of the court for the layup.
UNI regrouped with the next four points and was within five, 28-23, with 2:15 to play in the first half, but that’s the closest it would get for the remaining of the game, as Miller putback an offensive rebound for her first points of the game and started a 10-0 run, with the final eight of those points closing out the first half where the Gators held a 36-23 lead.
The teams traded basks for the next few minutes of the second half, before the Gators staged an 8-1 run over the next three minutes and assumed a 50-31 lead with 14:17 remaining. Lewis scored four points, Bonds two and Vicky McIntyre (Omaha, Neb.) a field goal, as all nine Gators who dressed for the game scored.
Florida never looked back the rest of the contest and maintained a double-figure lead, increasing their margin by as many as 20 points on three different occasions.
Kalin led the Panthers with 14 points and three assists.
The Gators conclude action at the tournament on Sunday when they play Arizona State (1-3) beginning at 3 p.m. ET (Noon PT). Sun Devils defeated Northern Iowa, 66-63, in a tight game on Friday and then lost to N.C. State, 72-68, on Saturday.
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 www.gatorzone.com, the official website of the Florida Gators.
For all of the latest information on Florida women’s basketball:
Official Website: www.gatorzone.com/basketball/women
Twitter: @GatorZoneWBK and @CoachButlerUF