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Kayla Lewis scored a career-high 23 points

Thursday January 24, 2013Florida's Late Rally Falls Short in Loss to Ole Miss, 88-81

Gainesville, Fla.

Kayla Lewis scored a career-high 23 points

Ole Miss nailed a season-best 11-of-16 three-pointers and staved off Florida’s second-half rally and defeated the Gators 88-81 at the O’Connell Center Thursday evening.

 

The loss was the third straight at home for the Gators (13-7, 2-4 SEC) , who had won 15 consecutive in Gainesville prior to this current slide, while Ole Miss (8-11, 1-5 SEC) halted a five-game losing streak and earned its first Southeastern Conference win of the year.

 

Ole Miss led by as many as 17 points, but the Gators were able to cut their deficit to three points, 76-73, with 3:30 left in regulation, but couldn’t overtake the hot-shooting Rebels though and lost their sixth SEC game by eight points or less.

 

“You’ve got to give Ole Miss credit for the way they came here and the confidence they played with,” UF head coach Amanda Butler said. “I really admire their team and how hard they play for each other and the amount of pride that they play with, how unaffected they are when things don’t go their way—because things haven’t gone their way at all this season. It’s a great demonstration of maturity and how valuable the intangibles are. We clearly have a lot of things that we have to correct and have to grow up a lot. It’s a very tough league and I’ve said this from the beginning, there are no bad teams. If you’re not ready to play, you’re going to lose. It doesn’t matter where you are, doesn’t matter who it’s against. So, you’ve got to give Ole Miss a lot of credit and their coaches; they did a fantastic job.”

 

Redshirt sophomore Kayla Lewis (Decatur, Ga.) led the way for UF with a career-best 23 points. Lewis was 9-for-13 from the field on her career night and was three rebounds shy of her third double-double of the season. Junior Jaterra Bonds (Gainesville, Fla.) and freshmen January Miller (Orlando, Fla.) and Sydney Moss (Union, Ky.) all scored in double figures, with 16, 14 and 12, respectively. Moss collected seven rebounds, while Bonds grabbed six and Miller came away with three steals.

 

Junior Valencia McFarland recorded 24 points and 10 assists to pace Ole Miss. It marked McFarland’s first double-double of the season. In total, five Rebels scored in double figures.

 

All five Rebels who attempted a three-pointer made at least one, led by freshman Gracie Frizzell who hit all four of hers during the first half when Ole Miss built a 50-39 lead thanks in part to a 9-of-10 effort from beyond the arc during the opening 20 minutes.

 

The Rebels were red-hot from downtown from the onset of the game. Ole Miss shot an absurd 9-for-10 from beyond the arc in the first half. The team ended up finishing 11-for-16 from three (68.8%). Florida was 30-for-78 (38.5%) shooting and was out-rebounded 48-44. Both were improvements from its performance against South Carolina.

 

“Clearly they made shots,” Butler said. “I think that we were probably the recipient of their best shooting night ever. But again, the only way you change that is defensively what you would do.”

 

The two teams alternated baskets in to begin the game. Neither team held a lead greater than three points in the first seven minutes of the game.

 

Fueled by consecutive three-point field goals by Ole Miss freshman Gracie Frizzell, the Rebels took a four-point lead at the 12:19 mark of the first period. The Gators then went on a 4-0 run to knot up the score at 18-18 with 10:40 remaining. Bonds and Moss each contributed two points on the Florida run.

 

Following a 6-2 stretch, the visiting Rebels retook the lead, 24-20, with 9:29 remaining. Miller converted a three-point play to trim the Ole Miss advantage to one point. That would be the closest the Gators would get for the remainder of the half.

 

Over the final nine minutes of play, Ole Miss would outscore the host-Gators 26-16 to take a 50-39 advantage heading into the locker room. The Rebels’ 50 points at halftime were the most points allowed by Florida in the first half of play so far this season.

 

In addition to great three-point shooting, the visitors made more than half of their shots (51.5%) in the first half. UF was 15-for-44 (34.1%) from the field in the first half; which was a slight improvement from their last game, but not enough to keep up with the Rebels.

 

The final half of play started off much like the previous one with the two teams exchanging baskets in the first few minutes of the period. Ole Miss recaptured some of the same momentum it had in the first half, going on a 9-4 run to take a 65-51 advantage with 15:01 left in regulation.

 

The score difference the fluctuated between 10 and 12 points for the next three minutes

 

Bonds was whistled for her fourth personal foul with 11:08 left in the contest, having to head to the bench with 13 points and five rebounds.

 

McCray nailed an eight-footer and increased UM’s lead to 12 points, as Florida missed a shot on its next possession, but Miller came up with a steal and dribbled the length of the court where she made the layup but missed the and-one free throw so UF remained 10 points down.

 

Miller recovered on defense from the miss and came away with another steal and nailed the 8-foot pull-up jumper that had Florida within eight points, 68-60, with 9:03 remaining.

 

Miller came up with her third straight steal and while she missed the tough layup, Christin Mercer collected the offensive board and found Carlie Needles open on the left side of arc where she knocked down her second three-pointer of the game and had Florida within five points, 68-63, with 8:35 remaining, and Ole Miss called a timeout.

 

Ole Miss quickly regrouped and Tia Faleru knocked down the team’s 11th three-pointer at the 8:24 mark.

 

Florida turned the ball over on its next possession, but Moss came up with a steal and found Lewis streaking down the court, as Lewis sank the layup and tied her career-high of 18 points, bringing Florida back within five points, 76-71, with 7:54 remaining.

 

After one UM free throw, Bonds hit one for UF. She missed her second attempt, but George was there to collect the miss and putback the offensive board and UF inched closer, down four, with 5:25 on the clock.

 

Ole Miss scored the next four points, but Florida answered with a bucket from George and three points from Lewis and Florida was back within three points with 3:30 remaining.

 

The Gators had a chance to get even closer, but Bonds’ jumper wouldn’t fall and although Miller came up with the miss she turned the ball over and McFarland converted the layup for the 78-73 lead with 2:58 on the clock.

 

The Gators then missed their next shot and Ole Miss collected the rebound and was fouled and made both free throws for the 80-73 lead with 2:38 remaining.

 

Moss was fouled driving the lane and made both free throws, pulling UF within five points, 80-75, with 2:26 on the clock.

 

Moore attempted a shot and was blocked by Moss. Needles came up with the loose ball, but the Gators couldn’t convert on the other end and the Rebels took control.

 

George also came up with a block and Moss corralled the loose ball, but McCray quickly stole it and Ole Miss called a timeout with 1:20 remaining.

 

The Rebels then worked an inbounds play to perfection, as McFarland converted an easy layup and gave UM the 82-75 lead with 1:17 left.

 

Bonds missed a layup in traffic on the other end and UM corralled the miss. McFarland made one free throw at the 1:06 mark.

 

Moss came back with a 6-foot jumper with exactly one minute remaining and Florida down 83-77.

 

Faleru then converted an 8-footer as the shot clock expired, giving Ole Miss the 85-77 lead with 34 seconds left.

 

Florida put up a quick shot and Bonds collected the miss and put it back in to cut the deficit to six points, 86-79, with 27.3 seconds remaining and the Gators called their final timeout.

 

The Gators fouled McCray, who made both free throws for an 87-81 lead and tried for a desperation three-pointer, but none would fall.

 

Lewis stole the ball on an inbounds and converted a layup and then McCray turned the ball over giving the Gators possession. Miller was fouled attempting a three-pointer and went to the line, but missed all three with 14 seconds remaining.

 

Florida was forced to foul again and Jackson iced the game at the line where she made one more to end the game’s scoring.

 

The Gators now enter a five-game stretch where four of them are on the road, beginning on Sunday when Florida plays at No. 14 Georgia (16-3, 4-2 SEC) which enjoyed a bye on Thursday. Tip-off from Stegeman Coliseum is set for 1 p.m. and will be televised live by LIVE CSS (COX Sports/Charter Sports Southeast, Cox Ch. 259 in Gainesville), as well as on CSN California, CSN Houston, The Comcast Network, CST and BHSN.

 

The game also can be watched on the internet thru www.espn3.com, while the radio broadcast can be heard in Gainesville on 99.5FM and thru www.Gatorzone.com, the official website of the Florida Gators.

 

POSTGAME NOTES:

*All six of UF’s SEC games have been decided by eight points or less

 

* Senior Jennifer George returned to action after missing the end of the Tennessee game and all of the matchup against South Carolina. George finished with six points, five rebounds and four blocks.

 

* Freshman Sydney Moss started her first game since the Arizona State game on November 25.

 

* Coming into the game, both teams were aiming to put an end to current losing streaks. The host Gators had dropped its past two contests, while the visiting Rebels had lost their last five.

 

* Tonight’s starting lineup marked the eighth different lineup for the Gators this season.

 

* Junior Jattera Bonds made her 53rd-consecutive start, the 66th of career

 

* Freshman January Miller's bucket and added free throw at the 9:19 mark of the first half was the second three-point play of her career.

 

* The 50 points for Ole Miss in the first half was the most UF has given up in the first half this season since giving up 49 at Florida State.

 

* Ole Miss's 11 three-pointers are its most this year and the most by a Gator opponent this year. The previous high was nine by Kentucky and Troy.

 

* Redshirt sophomore Kayla Lewis's 23 points in the game was a new career-high. Her previous best was 18 against Central Michigan in the championship game of the Gator Holiday Classic.

 

 

POSTGAME QUOTES:

 

Florida Head Coach Amanda Butler

Opening statement

“We just got outplayed in every category today which is certainly my fault; I didn’t do a good job of getting the team ready. You’ve got to give Ole Miss credit for the way they came here and the confidence they played with. I really admire their team and how hard they play for each other and the amount of pride that they play with, how unaffected they are when things don’t go their way—because things haven’t gone their way at all this season. It’s a great demonstration of maturity and how valuable the intangibles are. We clearly have a lot of things that we have to correct and have to grow up a lot. It’s a very tough league and I’ve said this from the beginning, there are no bad teams. If you’re not ready to play, you’re going to lose. It doesn’t matter where you are, doesn’t matter who it’s against. So, you’ve got to give Ole Miss a lot of credit and their coaches; they did a fantastic job.”

 

On Valencia McFarland

“She’s one of the best guards in the league; we’ve talked about it a lot. She’s an impact player, has been since she was a freshman. She was doing a great job of getting to the rim and causing us to rotate and opening up some rebounders. Obviously she did a great job of finishing. I described them (Ole Miss) before the game as ‘fearless’ and she was definitely their fearless leader. She played a great game.”

 

On Ole Miss shooting 9-of-10 from three in the first half

“Well clearly they made shots. I think that we were probably the recipient of their best shooting night ever. But again, the only way you change that is defensively what you would do. One of our issues at the beginning of the season, and I had thought we had gotten better at it but it really showed up tonight, was we don’t do a very good job of recognizing game trends. Clearly, we didn’t have everybody on their team pegged as a shooter but it didn’t really matter who was behind the three-point line tonight; everything they put up, fell. We tried to adjust and play everyone as a shooter, but we seemed to be unaware, caught off-guard and didn’t handle our own business individually. They shot the ball tremendously.”

 

 

Junior Jaterra Bonds

On her reaction to Butler claiming responsibility for the loss

“I feel like it’s on everybody. At this point, I feel like we are lacking energy, people are doing their own thing and there isn’t any determination… this is three losses in a row on our home court.”

 

On changing that mindset

“You got to dig deep down inside and want to do it for the team. I feel like we have the hardest working staff in the country. We need to come out and win, and we do it sometimes, but sometimes it gets you losses. Three losses at that- on your home court. I feel like if you want to be good and compete you have to do it every day no matter how you feel or how your day is going. You got to do it every day, not just sometimes.”

 

 

Redshirt Sophomore Kayla Lewis

On the game

“It’s very frustrating, but like JT said and Coach Butler said, that’s one of those personal dig-deep moments and you have to know that you are on your home court and you have to defend that. I mean, you play against a team like Ole Miss who had nothing to lose and for them to get this win was huge… we dug ourselves in a big hole in the first half and then the second half we came within three, four, five points and then we had turnovers, we gave up offensive rebounds, and those little plays that came up so big in the end lead us to have to foul, and they made free throws. Some of those players have bad free throw percentage, but they hit them; they came in clutch in the end. So, it’s tough. You got to make plays when it counts and it counted.”

 

 

Ole Miss Head Coach Brett Frank

On their first in-conference win of the year

“I walked into the locker room and I told them that on our first SEC win they could do a Gatorade bath so I’m a little wet.”

 

On how he feels about this team

“I could not be more proud of this team; the heart, the effort, the character they have shown consistently throughout this season. I can’t imagine being any more proud of any group.

 

On McFarland’s performance
“Valencia McFarland is a dynamic point guard. She has the capability of taking the game over. I thought she did that tonight. I thought that she established a pace for us offensively that was difficult for Florida to handle. On a defensive note, I thought her attacking really allowed us to get more open shots on the perimeter and I thought that a big reason we shot well from the perimeter in the first half.”

 

On the strong first half

“I think making the first couple of three-point shots  really got our team fired up, really got us enthused and really carried us to a great level of energy for the first half.”

 

 

For all of the latest information on Florida women’s basketball:

Official Website: www.gatorzone.com/basketball/women

Facebook: www.facebook.com/FloridaWomensBasketball

Twitter: @GatorZoneWBK  and  @CoachButlerUF 

 

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