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Jennifer George scored a game-high 17 points.

Sunday February 17, 2013Women's Basketball Drops Close Battle vs. No. 13/12 Georgia, 62-57

Gainesville, Fla.

Jennifer George scored a game-high 17 points.

Senior Jennifer George (Fresno, Calif.) scored 17 points, junior Jaterra Bonds (Gainesville, Fla.) added 14 points and freshman Christin Mercer (Douglasville, Ga.) had 12 during a game that featured seven lead changes and a tied score 10 times, but it was No. 13/12 Georgia that emerged with the tight 62-57 decision in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center Sunday afternoon.


Freshman Sydney Moss (Union, Ky.) hit a jumper that gave the Gators (15-11, 4-8 SEC) a 24-12 lead with 8:18 remaining in the first half. That would be the last field goal Florida would manage in the first half as the Lady Bulldogs (21-4, 9-3 SEC) rallied with 12 straight points and tied the game at 24 with 2:55 left until halftime.


Sophomore Kayla Lewis (Decatur, Ga.) hit two free throws to halt the run, but Tiaria Griffin came right back with two for the Dawgs and the score was tied for the sixth time of the half. Jasmine James the followed with a steal and a layup and gave Georgia its first lead of the game with 1:11 remaining until half.


 Bonds added two more points from the charity stripe and the game was again tied.


The teams traded turnovers and Florida had the ball for the final shot of the half. George missed and Lily Svete (Granger, Ind.) appeared to have collected the miss and putback the offensive board, but was instead whistled for an offensive foul that sent Jasmine Hassel to the free throw line where she made both with three seconds remaining and gave the Bulldogs a 30-28 lead and the momentum into halftime.


The Gators, however, came out defensive minded to start the second half, drawing two charges, while Moss and Bonds nailed UF’s first two shot attempts, respectively, to erase the halftime deficit and take the two-point lead.


Georgia finally attempted a shot and Jasmine James converted to even the game


Neither team would lead by more than three points for the first 12:52 of the second half until Hasell, who finished with 16 points and a game-high 16 rebounds, hit a jumper and Anne Marie Armstrong followed with another that gave Georgia a 50-45 lead with 7:08 to go.


Florida’s next four points came from the free throw line, with George and Bonds connecting on two each and cut the deficit to one.


Merritt Hempe managed to putback an offensive rebound and gave Georgia a 52-49 lead with 5:43 remaining.


Mercer ended UF’s nearly four-minute field goal drought with a bucket inside and the Gators again closed within one point.


Armstrong was left open and drilled a three-pointer during a possession that was kept alive by two offensive rebounds and Georgia took a 55-51 lead with 3:03 left in the game.


The Gators made another push, as George and Moss converted back-to-back field goals and tied the game for the 10th time, this one coming with 2:21 on the clock.


James coolly hit a fad-away jumper and the Bulldogs regained the lead with 1:56 remaining.


Bonds then missed a three-pointer, but Moss was there for the rebound, but couldn’t convert the put-back, as Hassell corralled the miss.


Hassell missed her shot on the other end of the floor, but Armstrong gathered one of Georgia’s 19 offensive rebounds and was fouled. The Bulldogs made the Gators pay, as Khaalidah Miller drilled her third three-pointer that was a dagger, as Georgia took a 60-55 lead with 39 seconds remaining.


Carlie Needles’ three-point try rattled in and out for Florida, which managed just 1-of-5 from beyond the arc during the game and the Gators were forced to foul again.


James missed the front end of a one-and-one with 25 seconds left, but Bonds missed a short jumper and the Gators were forced to foul Miller, who also missed her first attempt from the line with 15 seconds to go.


Florida sent James to the line again, but this time she made both for the 62-55 Georgia lead and sealed the win with six seconds remaining.


Bonds dropped in a driving layup at the buzzer to complete the game’s scoring.


Georgia held the 44-40 rebounding edge that helped the Bulldogs to a 21-10 advantage in second-chance points.


Florida dished a season-low five assists, while hitting 39 percent (23-59) from the floor during the game, compared with Georgia’s 36.7 percent effort. The Lady Bulldogs, however, scored 13-of-23 free throw attempts compared with a 10-of-14 effort for the Gators.


Individually, Mercer and Lewis collected eight rebounds each to lead Florida on the boards, while Moss dished three of UF’s five assists, in addition to six points and five rebounds.



VIDEO: Florida’s postgame press conference with Coach Butler, Jennifer George and Christin Mercer:



Coach Amanda Butler, Florida Head Coach

Opening Statement

“Our lack of consistency in this ball game… it was like we played two different halves. In the first half we had very little paint presence and in the second half we corrected that but then we made really poor decisions with the ball and our lack of awareness seemed to be very low which is just disappointing. Georgia played a great ball game, in particular, Jasmine Hassel. 16 (points) and 16 (rebounds) is an amazing stat in an SEC ballgame, but if you don’t win the war of the paint you are not going to beat very many teams in this league. You can play them close, obviously. And then if you come out on top of that, poor decisions with the ball, the amount of turnovers and the bad, bad turnovers that we had; we put ourselves in a really hard spot to try and work out of … We just have to play much better on Thursday. “


On losing a close game…

“Well it’s very frustrating because it feels like the things that are in our control we were not controlling; things such as fundamental as an individual’s energy level or focus and how hard they’re listening to what we’re trying to do. Little things like that become game changers. And that’s unfortunately the hard lessons that we’re learning - that everything matters. When you’re playing SEC ballgames against great opponents like Georgia especially in February, but we’re still not really just taking that to heart. We’re a young team and we’re learning lessons the hard way unfortunately.”


On dealing with this loss…

“I think that we’re going to be better because of it and we’ve got to be better because of it on Thursday. We’ve got to turn around that quickly. It’s not like we’ll grow up and apply these lessons next season. We still have so much to play for, but we’ve got to understand every moment, every possession, defensive, offensive, and in particular this ballgame, every rebound, is going to be a difference maker in the outcome, not just in that possession, in the outcome. Certainly, we failed today. There’s not any question. Most of the time, the greatest lessons are learned in the face of failure.”



Georgia Head Coach Andy Landers

General Remarks:

"It was obviously a battle. I was really pleased and proud of our team, having doubled the score on them early. We were down 12, just kind of packed away and made plays. They did it. It wasn't design, it wasn't scouting report. They made plays on the defensive end. They got stops on the defensive end. They were able to run in transition and they got those points back. Then as they got them back right before halftime, they were able to go ahead, which I thought was huge because if you play behind a long time it's hard to get over that hump and to be able to get ahead by halftime was good."




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