Sunday January 20, 2013Gators fall flat in loss to No. 19/18 South Carolina, 52-44
Jaterra Bonds scored a game-high 16 points.
With Florida’s leading scorer and rebounder Jennifer George (Fresno, Calif.) unable to play because of injury, No. 19/18 South Carolina took advantage on the boards and captured a 52-44 decision over the Gators on Sunday at the O’Connell Center.
Appearing on the floor for the first time since the heartbreaking 78-75 overtime loss to ninth-ranked Tennessee last Sunday, the Gators (13-6, 2-3 SEC) were flat on offense from the start, hitting just one of their first 14 shots from the floor, as the Gamecocks (16-3, 4-2 SEC) jumped out to an early eight-point lead and were ahead by as many as 11 in the first half, maintaining a lead for the entire game.
Florida shot a season-low 29.8 percent (17-57) from the floor during the game, while South Carolina hit a mere 23.4 percent (15-64), the lowest by a Gator opponent this season, but overcame its inept shooting performance with a commanding 59-41 rebounding advantage that included 26 on the offensive end.
“We gave up 26 offensive rebounds and so I think there’s a lack of toughness,” UF head coach Amanda Butler said. “And in some of the times it was poor decision making; you turn the ball over a ton and I think offensively our problems were very similar to our rebounding problems; we just weren’t physical enough. We didn’t finish in the paint. Anything less than winning means clearly, we failed in the toughness and decision making.”
The rebounding margin was the worst deficit of the year for the Gators, who had entered the game having out-rebounded its last 13 opponents and had lost the rebounding battle just three times.
After Vicky McIntyre (Omaha, Neb.) connected on an eight-foot jumper at the 17:15 mark of the first half, the Gators went cold from the floor, missing 10 consecutive attempts over the next 6:32, hitting a woeful 1-of-14 as South Carolina went on an 8-0 run.
Jaterra Bonds (Gainesville, Fla.), who finished with a game-high 16 points, ended the drought with a tough layup at 10:33 remaining and pulled Florida to within six points, 12-6.
“Jaterra fought really hard and was offensively in particular the one bright spot for us and had some moments where she was kind of our unstoppable offensive player,” Amanda Butler said.
The Gators then missed their next five shots, as the Gamecocks took a 17-6 lead with 8:43 remaining.
The teams traded scores for the rest of the half and South Carolina carried a 24-17 halftime advantage, as UF hit just 23.1 percent (6-26) during those first 20 minutes and South Carolina just 24.2 percent (8-33), but enjoyed its 29-18 rebounding edge, scoring six second-chance points while Florida was unable to capitalize on any.
“Obviously very disappointed with the way we played, in particularly in the first half,” Butler said. “I thought we were just not ourselves. You don’t have time or room for that this time of year. (I’m) really disappointed with our rebounding performance. That’s something we worked hard on during this week and we didn’t carry it over into the game and there’s really no excuse for that. I got to give South Carolina a lot of credit. They played very hard, they’re very tough and they made it their number one agenda to outrebound us and they did that and then some.”
The Gators came out with energy in the second half, cutting their deficit to three twice from a layup by Bonds and triple from Lily Svete (Granger, Ind.).
Bonds tied the game at 35-all with 12:14 remaining, but Khadijah Session came right back with her third three-pointer of the game and gave SC the 38-35 lead with 11:51 left in the game.
Florida attempted and missed its only shot on its next three offensive possessions, as South Carolina capitalized with inside buckets from Ashley Brunner and Aleighsa Welch along with one free throw from Welch and the Gamecock’s lead was back to eight, 43-35, with 10:42 remaining.
The Gators had a chance to stop the run, but Needles couldn’t connect from the free throw line. UF maintained possession but again missed its shot and USC came away with the rebound and Bruner hit the fastbreak layup that gave the visitors a 45-35 lead with 9:39 on the clock.
Florida called a timeout after SC’s 2:10 scoring outburst and McIntyre was able to halt the march with a layup inside with 9:23 remaining.
Sydney Moss (Union, Ky.), who finished with six points and tied for a team-high eight rebounds, then converted one-of-two from the line and Florida cut its deficit to seven points, 45-38.
USC took its turn from the free throw line, where it missed both, but collected the offensive board, however, was unable to convert and gave the Gators another chance to inch closer.
Both teams missed shots on their next two ensuing possessions and Florida was unable to make up any ground.
USC was called for offensive foul with 48.8 seconds remaining while holding a 45-42 lead.
Florida took possession but January Miller’s three-pointer was off the mark and SC got the rebound, where Bruner was fouled on a layup attempt. She made the first and missed the second, but a lane violation game gave third try, where she missed it again with 31.4 seconds left, however, Welch collected the loose ball and SC called a timeout with 29.7 second on the clock and a 46-42 lead.
The Gators were forced to foul quickly and tapped Sessions, who hit the first and missed the second. Lewis corralled the miss and Moss quickly answered with a layup for the Gators with 19.3 ticks left, as Florida called an immediate timeout, down 47-44.
Mitchell then went to the line and hit both free throws and the Gators missed their ensuing shot attempt.
Bruner was then fouled and missed the first but made the second to give USC a 50-44 lead with seven seconds remaining and Session’s capped the game’s scoring with two more from the line for the Gamecocks, who didn’t convert a field goal in the final 9:39 of the game.
Florida will look to rebound on Thursday when it plays host to Ole Miss in the O’Connell Center, where tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. The game will be televised live on COX Sports/Charter Sports Southeast and COX Sports will simulcast in Gainesville on channel 259.
*Sunday was the first of two meetings between Florida and South Carolina this season; next game on March 3 in Columbia, S.C., in regular-season finale
*South Carolina won its third straight in the series against Florida
*Each of the last five games in the Florida-South Carolina series has been decided by 8 points or less
*freshman January Miller earned her first collegiate start; eighth different Gator to start a game this year
*senior Jennifer George was unable to play (injury) for just the second time in her career (other missed game was season-opener, Nov. 9 vs. Fairfield)
*UF’s used its seventh different starting lineup of the year
*With Lily Svete not in the starting lineup, Jaterra Bonds becomes the only Gator who has started every game this year; Bonds has started 52 consecutive games
*The Gators had just eight players suit up for Sunday’s game, the fewest this year
*UF’s 17 first-half points were its fewest in a half this year (was 22 vs. Arizona State, Nov. 25)
*Bonds has been UF’s leading scorer in each of its SEC games this year
*Bonds scored a game-high 16 points and was the only Gator to score in double-figures (second time this year only one Gator has scored in double-figures)
*UF was out-rebounded 59-41, its worst rebounding margin deficit of the year (greatest margin was 10 at Florida State, Nov. 15)
*this was just the fourth game this year UF has been out-rebounded in a game
*UF entered the game having out-rebounded its opponent in 13 consecutive games
*Florida shot a season-low 29.8 percent from the floor (was 30.3 percent at Michigan, Dec. 1))
*South Carolina shot 23.4 percent from the floor, a season-low by a Gator opponent this year (was 28.8 percent by La Salle, North Florida and Savannah State)
*after winning 15 consecutive home games, UF has lost its last two in the O’Connell Center
Florida Head Coach Amanda Butler
“Obviously very disappointed with the way we played, in particular in the first half. I thought we were just not ourselves. You don’t have time or room for that this time of year. (I’m) really disappointed with our rebounding performance. That’s something we worked hard on during this week and we didn’t carry it over into the game and there’s really no excuse for that. You’ve got to give South Carolina a lot of credit. They played very hard, they’re very tough and they made it their number one agenda to outrebound us and they did that and then some.”
On toughness and good decision-making
“We gave up 26 offensive rebounds and so I think there’s a lack of toughness. And in some of the times it was poor decision making; you turn the ball over a ton and I think offensively our problems were very similar to our rebounding problems; we just weren’t physical enough. We didn’t finish in the paint. Anything less than winning means clearly, we failed in the toughness and decision making.”
On Jaterra Bonds play
“Jaterra fought really hard and was offensively in particular the one bright spot for us and had some moments where she was kind of our unstoppable offensive player.”
On tying game and then South Carolina going on a 10-0 run
“Obviously, it was rebounding. Once again, it was very frustrating. I was proud of the fight. We had played probably our worst 20 minutes of basketball in that first half. And again give South Carolina credit for that. But to scratch and crawl back and then just to give it right back I just think that was a lack of toughness and they turned up the heat and we got down. Those are the things were going to look at; we will be upset when we look at film but we’re going to bounce back. We have a game on Thursday that counts just as much as this one does and we got to be ready for it.”
Sydney Moss in the open court
"She's a catalyst, there's no question. Sydney is very gifted and can make plays, especially in transition, there's no one else on our team who can make those sort of plays. The problem is that sometimes Sydney settles for shots and she's got to grow out of it. She's working on it, watching film and trying to get better at it. She's just so strong that finishes in the paint have got to be her focus but transition wise, I've never coached anyone like her."
UF junior center Vicky McIntyre
On her performance
“Obviously not happy with my performance and it wasn’t acceptable. They’re a very physical team; probably the most physical in the pain we’ve played thus far and that’s no excuse at all but it’s just something we didn’t do well adjusting to.”
UF junior guard Jaterra Bonds
On South Carolina’s performance
“We knew that they were a bunch of penetrators so we wanted to step in and make them take shots outside the paint. But we obviously we didn’t and they got the majority of their shots inside the paint. But it’s something we game planned and just didn’t do well; all around we just didn’t do well.”
UF freshman guard January Miller
On her first career start
“It felt good at first; I was kind of nervous because it was my first time but it was kind of unfortunate that this loss had to overshadow that. But it was good while it lasted.”
On playing big on big games
“I think I just try not to think about the stress of the game and just play my game”
South Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley
“You saw two SEC teams that were wanting to win and we really didn’t care how it looked, but I think if we had our way we would want the game to be a lot more pretty than it ended up. It was a gritty performance by both teams. You know I thought our team came up with some huge rebounds. As you can see we are shooting a percentage in our free throw shooting that we have to play that way from a defensive standpoint and try to find, you know, the cut off in our opponent’s production. We did our job from a defensive standpoint and we just ended up having, you know, more points than them. (Sophomore forward) Aleighsa Welch, I think she’s the best at it in our league in getting offensive rebounds. She’s got great timing and she’s relentless.”
On winning a conference game on the road
“It’s huge. It’s tough coming in here and getting a win. We know how well they play at home and the fact that they’re talented. I think Florida is going to be a hard team to reckon with later on in the season and we got to see them again.”
On Jennifer George’s absence
“Jennifer George is a huge void to fill from a Florida standpoint and you know I was kind of happy that she wasn’t able to play because you know to deal with a double-double, she gets double-doubles on us every single time we play them. But you know we did feel like we did have the advantage inside although you know we didn’t I don’t think you could see it by the game that I thought just overall our experience paid off, you know in this particular game.”
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