Thursday February 14, 2013Gator Rally Falls Short at No. 11/13 Texas A&M, 78-71
College Station, TX
Jaterra Bonds led the Gators in scoring for the sixth time in 10 SEC games this year (photos: Matt Pendleton)
Junior Lily Svete nailed five three-pointers and led a furious late rally that fell short and the University of Florida women’s basketball team dropped a 78-71 decision at No. 11/13 Texas A&M at Reed Arena on Thursday evening.
Trailing by 21 points with 11:10 remaining, the Gators outscored the Aggies 38-24 the rest of the way, closing to within four points with 27 seconds remaining and again with 19 ticks on the clock, but couldn’t quite close out the comeback and had their two-game win streak come to an end.
“We showed some tremendous fight, in particular from Jaterra (Bonds) and some of our younger players,” UF head coach Amanda Butler said. “I thought they would never give up and I’m very proud of that, but it’s not excusable. The mistakes that we made and our post defense was something we worked very hard on for two days and we didn’t carry it over to the game. That’s tough to stomach. It was a great fight and we put ourselves in position at the end and, again, it was just a mental miscue. We gave up a huge turnover right there and put them back at the free throw line. It took us out of an opportunity to do anything.”
Svete’s 15 points, all in the second half, tied a career-high for the Indiana native and was her fifth double-figure scoring game of the season. Junior Jaterra Bonds led all Gator scorers with 17 points on 7-of-16 shooting from the field, while she tied a season-high with eight assists. January Miller added 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting for the Gators (15-10, 4-7 SEC).
“It was huge for us, definitely a difference maker,” Butler said of the Gator’s outside shooting. “Obviously, the three-point shot can bridge a gap very quickly. Lily has been shooting the ball confidently and Carlie (Needles) as well. They both shot the ball great. I’m really proud of the way we played behind the three-point line. That was not our problem. How we played in the paint was our problem.”
Aggie (20-5, 10-1 SEC) center Kelsey Bone led all scorers with 31 points and 10 rebounds and forward Kristi Bellock added 19 points and eight rebounds.
“We just need to go back and look at our starting lineup,” Butler continued. “Jennifer (George) didn’t give us very much tonight. She took 14 shots tonight and only scored six points and had four turnovers. Maybe we need to mix things up again. We just need to go back to work and regroup and come back out with more fire from the start because we had a tough first half to try and overcome.”
Florida cut a 16-point deficit to two points with 1:48 remaining in the first half, but Adrienne Pratcher’s halfcourt shot at the buzzer swung the momentum entirely in the direction of the Aggies, who took their 34-27 halftime lead into the second half where they opened with a 20-6 run over the first 8:50 and took a commanding 54-33 lead.
The Gators fought back with an 8-2 run and shaved their deficit to 15 points, 56-41, with 8:38 remaining.
From there the teams traded scores for the next two-plus minutes and Florida wasn’t able to cut into the Aggie lead.
Miller banked in a shot from just inside the arc and Jaterra Bonds knocked down two free throws that helped bring UF to within 14 points, 63-49.
Bonds then converted her 11th three-point play of the season, which topped the 900-point plateau for her career, and had the Gators within 11 points, 63-52, with 4:05 on the clock.
Adrienne Pratcher then streaked down the floor on the ensuing in-bounds pass and converted the easy layup that halted UF’s 6-0 spurt and had TAMU up, 65-52, with four minutes to play.
Florida refused to quit and January Miller nailed a three-pointer from the right-side of the arc after the media timeout and the Gators quietly were within 10 points, 65-55, with 3:07 remaining.
After a defensive stand, the Gators had the ball but were whistled for an illegal screen. Kayla Lewis helped out by drawing a charge on the other end of the floor and Lily Svete made the defensive effort even more of a help as she nailed a three-pointer and Florida was within seven points, 66-58 with 2:08 to play.
Bone converted a pair of free throws, before Svete nailed another trey and the Gators trailed just 67-61 with 1:34 remaining.
The Aggies worked the shot clock and dumped the ball inside to Bone, who was fouled going up for the short jumper and made two free throws with 1:06 to play.
The Gators, however, continued their sizzling outside shooting and Svete drilled her three straight three-pointer, this one with just under a minute remaining and brought the Gators within five points, 69-64.
Florida then was whistled for a foul defending on the perimeter and sent Bone to the line again with 34.7 seconds remaining, where she made one.
Jaterra Bonds then raced down the court and converted a layup around Bone with 27 seconds left and Florida was within four points, 70-66.
The Aggies had trouble inbounding the ball and had to call a timeout, but later got the ball in and the Gators immediately fouled Pratcher with 25.6 seconds left. The Aggie senior made both, but again Bonds sank the uncontested layup at the other end and Florida was back within four with 19.3 seconds on the clock.
The Gators fouled Kristi Bellock, who made two free throws. Florida then had a miscommunication inbounding the ball, as it was rolled on court to save time, but the Gators weren’t aware it had entered the court and Pratcher scampered the loose ball and Florida was again forced to foul. Pratcher made two more from the charity stripe for a 76-68 score with 12.3 seconds left.
Svete struck again with her fifth trey of the half and the game and brought the Gators within five points with just five ticks on the clock. Bone was fouled for the final time and she made good on both to finish the game’s scoring and end her night with 31 points, hitting 11-of-19 from the floor and 9-of-11 free throws along with 10 rebounds.
The Aggies converted 22-of-26 free throws, including 12-of-13 in the final 1:44 to seal their win.
Florida hit 51.5 percent from the floor during the second half and 29-of-63 overall for 46 percent, while TAMU nailed 46.6 percent (27-58) overall.
The Gators hit 5-of-7 free throws as well as 8-of-12 three-pointers during the game, but were out-rebounded 39-27, giving up 12 offensive boards.
Texas A&M jumped out to a quick 9-2 lead in the first three-plus minutes of the game, but the Gators scored three straight points – a free throw from Christin Mercer, who netted UF’s first points of the game, and a six-foot pull-up jumper from January Miller – and closed within four points with 15:45 remaining.
The Aggies, however, ripped off a 12-0 run over the next 3:57 and took a 21-5 lead at the 11:23 mark of the first half.
Florida finally gathered themselves on their first trip to Reed Arena since 1994 and countered with an 11-0 march of its own during a 5:26 span and closed the deficit to five points, 21-16, with 5:23 left in the first half.
Jaterra Bonds got the spurt started with a pair of driving jumpers. Bonds then collected a defensive rebound and found Sydney Moss down court, who hit the layup. Jennifer George added a left-handed hook shot and Carlie Needles capped the spree with her first three-pointer of the game.
The teams traded scores for the next two minutes before Moss hit a field goal and Needles drilled her second trey that brought the Gators within two points, 27-25, with 2:27 remaining in the half.
The Aggies hit a bucket, but Mercer responded with one for the Gators and kept within two points. TAMU struck again and UF held for the last shot. George’s layup with four seconds left was off the mark and Kelsey Bone, who had 12 points and seven rebounds in the first half, collected the miss and passed to Adrienne Pratcher, who drained the halfcourt shot at the buzzer that gave the Aggies a 34-27 halftime lead.
Florida managed to hit just one of the first seven shots and just two of the first 12 before the run, ending the half with an improved 40 percent (12-30) mark for the half.
TAMU sizzled at the beginning of the game and finished the period sinking 41.2 percent (14-34) overall, while holding the 22-16 rebounding advantage that included seven offensive boards, as the Aggies held a 9-0 cushion in second-chance points.
Florida continues its challenging slate, next playing host to No. 13/12 Georgia (20-4, 8-3 SEC) on Sunday, Feb. 17 in the O’Connell Center where tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET.
The game will be televised live on CSS which is COX Sports/Charter Sports Southeast and COX Sports will simulcast in Gainesville on channel 259. The radio broadcast of the game came be heard live in Gainesville on 99.5FM The Star and in Jacksonville on AM930 WFXJ. Fans can listen online for free through www.gatorzone.com, the official website of the Florida Gators.
The video also will be streamed live online via www.ESPN3.com and with the WatchESPN App with no blackout.
A free parking shuttle will be available on Sunday to deliver fans to the No. 13 Gator baseball team’s series finale against Duke at 12 p.m. in McKethan Stadium and the Gator women’s basketball game versus Georgia at 1 p.m. in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Fans are strongly encouraged to use the parking shuttle to reach their destination.
Shuttle service from the commuter lot on Gale Lemerand Drive begins at 11 a.m. on Sunday. The buses will stop at the corner of Gale Lemerand Drive and Stadium Road near the south gate at the Lemerand Center adjacent to McKethan Stadium. The buses will also stop at the corner of Gale Lemerand Drive and Stadium Road near Gate 2 of the O’Connell Center for access to the women’s basketball game. Fans heading to the baseball game can enter through the south gate at the Lemerand Center adjacent to McKethan Stadium.
The shuttles will run for 30 minutes following the conclusion of the event which is completed last. A map of the shuttle service can be found here.
Additional Postgame Quotes:
Florida Head Coach Amanda Butler
“We have to give credit to A&M and Kelsey for setting the tone from the beginning. Basically every time she touched the ball she made something good happen for them. Based on what we’ve seen this year, conference and non-conference, she is the most dominant post player in the country and I think she deserves that title. Our post players didn’t have an impact tonight, which was disappointing. At the same time I’m very proud of our young players and our fight.“
“We shot the ball very well. We just finally started buckling down and getting some stops. We didn’t match up with Bone no matter who we put on her. We knew that if we did what we needed to do we could fight our way back into it. I thought we showed a great deal of resiliency and confidence and belief in one another.”
Texas A&M Head Coach Gary Blair
"Before the ball game, on Valentine's, I took my wife to dinner at 5:30 at Traditions, I gave the coach at Florida a rose before the ball game, and we almost gave her the game at the end due to very good execution on their part, and very good point guard play by Bonds on their part. And the youth of our basketball team on the defensive end showed, and we haven't been in a whole lot of those situation. The lack of communication hurt us, but sometimes you have to give credit to the other team because I think only one of those shots was wide open. The rest of them we were trying to get there either on the screens, but they executed and didn't give up, so I would just like to give Florida a lot of credit for what they did. Butler said before the game she thought the two best point guards in the league were her kid and my kid; I'm not going to doubt that a whole lot. I'm going to have to throw in O'Neal there at Kentucky, but I thought the point guard play on both teams was very good. The leadership by both kids was very good; I played Pratcher a little longer than I really wanted to, but this wasn't a ball game that my bench really helped me out a whole lot. When we had the big league in the first half, I was trying to rest people for a little bit, but then they countered and cut it to a two point game. By the time you get your first group back in, the other team has momentum. Exactly the same thing happened in the second half; we have a 20 point lead, I try to rest some kids. It's not that they played so bad, it's the other team played so good and you lose the flow of defense, you lose the flow of continuity, then you have some untimely turnovers in there. I thought we stood around on offense against the zone. We were just watching the Bone show, instead of moving around to the ball or cutting to the basket to be able to help her off. Bone played great, but we've got to have some help from some of our freshmen out there knocking down some shots and reading and attacking the zone which we didn't have. The free-throw shooting was great, we got the ball inside. Tori off the bench, that's why I started her in the second half, she gave us some excitement out there and gave us some easy baskets that Williams hadn't been giving us. Hopefully this will give a wakeup to Williams because there's competition at that spot; it's not a given who's going to start and who's going to play. Hopefully Courtney will take it to heart and get back and have a better practice the next couple of days to be able to play on Monday against Kentucky."
On preparing for Kentucky
"Kentucky almost lost it today, but that's what a home game can do. You come back, and the crowd can get you into it, and Kentucky did a good job of coming back like they did on us when we had the lead at their place. Now I'm going to focus on Kentucky, but I'm going to correct some mistakes tomorrow, and I'm going to correct some attitude adjustment, where we had the leadership, but everybody else just had a glazed look on their face. We've got to be able to take coaching better and take accountability better out there on the court because we are going to play a fired up Kentucky team who is going to try to win this SEC just like we are."
On best conference record
"Hey, it's Valentine's Day, and there is a lot of love right here. I've got a lot of love for my basketball team. And some day I expect them to go out there, and we shoot 46%, and we 22 out of 26 from the line, and we outrebound them by 12. But then normally, we're not going to win a game that we're giving up what we gave up to them percentage wise. We were playing great defense the first ten minutes of the ball game, but then it was give or take after that. We've got to be able to sub and get our continuity going better with our subs then what we had tonight. We can't keep playing those kids 35 minutes a ball game. We've got to have double figures from those kids on the bench. Peyton has got to hit those shots. Williams has got to play better, and I'm hoping this might be a breakout game for Scott. But hey, I've got a lot of answers for that spot."
On Pratcher's play since last meeting against Kentucky
"She's never flustered. She just handles the thing and works well with Bone. She's very good in traffic coming down and finding the open person. Most point guards shoot too much; sometimes, she doesn't shoot enough. She would rather deliver it, stay out of the spotlight, and just do her job, and that's just the way her personality is. Pratcher is solid; she is really going to have her work cut out against O'Neal. O'Neal basically won the game at Kentucky. I know Mathis had 24 points or something, but the point guard play was tremendous. We've got to quit turning the ball over against pressure, and that's what Kentucky did against us."
On allowing the comeback
"I think a lot of it has to do with continuity through subs. Sometimes you see a big lead and get a little comfortable, so I think everybody has to be ready for the opportunity. We get the big momentum swing with Adrienne's shot at the buzzer but there was a drop off. When we drop off in scoring there is a drop off in defense. To me that is a sign of immaturity and we have got to fix that on the practice floor or it will come back to bite us. "
On game and high stats
"My teammates just know how to get me the ball. I take pride and I am excited to play with a group of guards that can post feed; it's a lost art of basketball. Florida played single coverage so I took advantage of it. Coach has been on my case about getting to the free throw line, and I finally did it and made a couple. Without my teammates I wouldn't get those opportunities."
On looking ahead
"I look forward in the morning after class. Our last few games are so tough and it's a strenuous schedule, it's the hardest of the top teams that anyone has left. We need all of our students and fans; it's going to be a fight, they are a great team. I think a game like tonight helps us going into Kentucky. Now we know what we need to work on going into a top ten team. We haven't fared too well against top ten opponents this year."
On team development since Kentucky
"Adrienne Pratcher is what has improved since the last time we played Kentucky. She is just playing with a ton of confidence and she is leading this team. Our focus has improved. We don't have the luxury of looking ahead. This is a new conference so we can't look ahead and know what's next, so we have to focus game-by-game and step-by-step. It forces us to focus on each game."
On allowing the comeback
"Early in the first we defended very well, but late in the second we started getting away from what we know. We did a very good job of keeping them off the free throw line. Early in the second half we struggled and gave up way too many threes."
On buzzer beater
"When we got the rebound the first thing I did was look up at the clock. I didn't just throw it up; it was kind of a shot, I worked on it this week in practice. It is definitely the longest shot I've made. I worked on it three times this week after practice. I knew it was going in when it left my hands."
On team development since Kentucky
"I think we have matured way more. I think our guards understand the importance of being able to defend a player like Mathis. I think our rebounding has improved even on the defensive end. I think we have matured together as a team."
For all of the latest information on Florida women’s basketball:
Official Website: www.gatorzone.com/basketball/women
Twitter: @GatorZoneWBK and @CoachButlerUF