Sunday February 3, 2013Balanced Effort Helps Florida Overwhelm Alabama, 87-54
Freshman Christin Mercer notched her first career double-double.
Freshman Christin Mercer (Douglasville, Ga.) notched her first career double-double, as five Gators scored in double-figures and Florida overwhelmed the Alabama, 87-54, in the O’Connell Center on Sunday afternoon.
The Gators (14-9, 3-6 SEC) shot a season-best 58.3 percent (35-60) from the floor and held a 51-33 rebounding advantage against the Crimson Tide (12-10, 2-7 SEC), who managed to hit just 25.7 percent of their shots, including a 3-of-23 three-point effort.
“I think it was a great win for our program in a lot of different ways,” UF head coach Amanda Butler said. “We had a fantastic crowd, being able to honor our alumni in the fashion that we have all weekend long. Celebrating and trying to raise awareness of breast cancer, research and raising money and being in pink and then obviously getting a very big win, not just winning the ball game, but winning in a convincing fashion.”
Mercer led all scorers with a career-best 18 points on 9-of-12 shooting to accompany her game and career-high 11 rebounds to net her first double-double.
“Christin really showed a lot of growth in our Georgia game and she was just a lot more consistently aggressive and made plays and pursued the ball in a way that makes it not surprising at all that she got 11 rebounds,” Butler said. “We’ve been challenging her to bring that consistent energy and drive. She’s been practicing really, really well.”
Junior guard Jaterra Bonds (Gainesville) chipped in 16 points, while freshman Sydney Moss (Union, Ky.) added 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting with seven rebounds. Juniors Lily Svete (Granger, Ind.) and Vicky McIntyre (Omaha, Neb.) each recorded 12 points as all nine Gators who dressed for the game, scored and helped snap a five-game losing streak.
“I was really proud of the bounce back because we have had a lot of reasons to hang our heads and we’ve had a lot of reasons to accept less,” Butler said. “They just wouldn’t allow that to happen.”
Playing in the annual Pinkzone game and in front of more than 30 basketball alumni in attendance, UF took control early, beginning the game on a 6-1 run forcing an Alabama timeout. Svete kept things going with a three followed by a layup in transition by Mercer to give the Gators an 11-1 run just four minutes into the game.
Alabama challenged the Gators early, cutting the lead to five with 14:52 to play but Bonds answered with a jumper and Svete’s three-pointer pushed the lead back to 10. The Crimson Tide stayed within single digits until a layup by Moss with 9:24 gave the Gators an 11-point lead.
Redshirt sophomore Kayla Lewis (Decatur, Ga.), who finished with six points and eight rebounds, sparked another Gator run with 4:05 left in the first quarter. Lewis’ layup started an 11-0 to close out the first half as Alabama went scoreless for the final 5:24.
It was all Gators in the first half, using a combination of point scorers led by Mercer who dropped 10 points before the break.
The Gators led 43-23 at the break and picked up where they left off to start the second half, leading by as many as 26 early in the final period. But that wasn’t enough for the Orange and Blue, who used an 8-0 run to lead by 30, 64-34, with 12:21 to play, forcing an Alabama timeout.
The Crimson Tide responded out of the time with a three-pointer from Shafontaye Myers, but the Gators continued to keep their large lead for the remainder of the game, enjoying a lead as large as 34 points with 1:28 remaining.
Not only was UF able to find a variety of point scorers, the Gators played unselfishly recording 17 assists in the contest including a career-high six assist from senior forward Jennifer George (Fresno, Calif.) and a game and career-high eight assists from redshirt freshman Carlie Needles (Highlands Ranch, Colo.).
“Whatever Coach Butler did, she did a great job of getting her team ready to play today, and they came out shooting the basketball well,” Alabama head coach Wendell Hudson said. “Playing on the other side of that, we did not come out and play as well as we’ve been playing and in this league, you can’t take a night off.”
Florida has a mid-week bye and returns to action next Sunday, Feb. 10 when the Gators travel to Auburn to play the Tigers, with tip-off scheduled for 3 p.m. ET. The game will be televised live on Fox SportsSouth, FS Southwest and Sun Sports.
*Gators used a different starting lineup for the eighth consecutive game; also the 11th new starting five this year (Bonds, Moss, Svete, Mercer, George)
*Florida dished 22 assists, one shy of a season-high
*11th time this year every Gator who suited up for the game, scored
*UF shot a season-best 58.3 percent from the floor
*Jaterra Bonds’ three-pointer with 12:36 remaining in the first half was her 87th career three-pointer, moving her into a tie for 10th in program history
*Jaterra Bonds and Lily Svete each played the 90th game of their respective careers
*Jaterra Bonds started her 56th consecutive game and the 69th of her career
*second career double-figure scoring game for freshman Christin Mercer, who scored a career-high 18 points
*Mercer also collected a career-best 11 rebounds for the first double-double of her career
*Five different Gators have recorded a double-double this season
*redshirt-freshman Carlie Needles dished a career-high 8 assists
*Lily Svete’s three-pointer with 3:36 remaining in the first half put her over the 250th career point plateau; Svete recorded her third double-figure scoring game this year and the fourth of her career
*freshman Sydney Moss notched her 11th double-figure scoring game; also dished the 75th assist of the season
*Jatarra Bonds tallied her 15th double-figure scoring game this year and the 43rd of her career
*Vicky McIntyre tied her Gator career-high of 12 points for her fifth double-figure scoring game of the year; 26th of her career
*senior Jennifer George dished a career-high 7 assists
*The Gator’s 43 first-half points were the most since 43 vs. Pacific (Dec. 7); tied for the third-largest point total in the first half this season (44 vs. Troy, 50 vs. North Florida).
FLORIDA HEAD COACH AMANDA BUTLER
“I think it was a great win for our program in a lot of different ways. We had a fantastic crowd, being able to honor our alumni in the fashion that we have all weekend long. Celebrating and trying to raise awareness of breast cancer, research and raising money and being in pink and then obviously getting a very big win, not just winning the ball game, but winning in a convincing fashion.”
On snapping a five-game losing streak
“We wanted to snap the losing streak however we could. For it to look like this is certainly best-case scenario. I think we played one of our most complete ballgames. We ended up winning the rebounding battle, although we gave up too many offensive rebounds to them in the first half. I was really proud of the bounce back because we have had a lot of reasons to hang our heads and we’ve had a lot of reasons to accept less. They just wouldn’t allow that to happen.”
On using a variety of different lineups
“We have shuffled our line up a lot in the past couple weeks and I’ve said a lot that we really are just trying to figure out who are the best tone setters and best match ups. Starting five is not really a term that we use to indicate that these are our best five players.”
On the intensity level of the team today
“I think we played one of our most complete ball games...Our team just really went out and enjoyed themselves today. They played hard for each other. Things have been hard in practice.”
FLORIDA PLAYER QUOTES
Freshman forward Christin Mercer
On her performance
“I felt like my performance was really good. We started an ‘as if’ saying, so all the games that we lost were ‘as if’ we won them. So we had a change in our mindset, and I just honestly came out with the mindset that we were a ranked team.”
On being more aggressive
“I personally think I’ve been slacking on the aggressive part, so I’m trying to turn a cheek and I’m trying to start aggressively.”
Redshirt junior Lily Svete
On her performance
“I had a good shooting day like coach said against Missouri, and then I had some good shooting practices so I just let that carry over. I wasn’t really thinking about it.”
On knocking down shots and building confidence
“It’s all confidence. That’s what I’ve learned as a shooter and being here the last four years. The more confident you are, the easier it is to knock down shots. The tough part is after you miss maybe three or four in a row, still having the confidence that you’re going to make the next one.”
ALABAMA HEAD COACH WENDELL HUDSON
“Whatever Coach Butler did, she did a great job of getting her team ready to play today, and they came out shooting the basketball well today. Playing on the other side of that, we did not come out and play as well as we’ve been playing and in this league, you can’t take a night off.”
“Florida, of course, is a good basketball team. They came out and they were excited, and they made shots. When you shoot 58 percent from the field for the game, that means that you made a lot of shots but it also means the defense was very good and that’s kind of what we’ve hung out hats on; defensive pressure making stops. Florida did a great job of making the extra pass. They had 22 assists. That means that they found the open people and did a good job of making shots.”
For all of the latest information on Florida women’s basketball:
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Twitter: @GatorZoneWBK and @CoachButlerUF