Thursday February 28, 2013Senior Jennifer George Posts Double-Double in Final Home Game and Win vs. Arkansas
Senior Jennifer George with her family, Coach Butler, SWA Lynda Tealer and Alberta.
Jaterra Bonds (Gainesville, Fla.) scored a game-high 18 points and helped the Gators present their lone senior Jennifer George (Fresno, Calif.) a win in the final regular-season home game of her career, as Florida defeated Arkansas 69-58 on Thursday in the O’Connell Center.
The visiting Razorbacks tied the game with 4:27 remaining in regulation, but UF closed out the game on a 14-3 run to clinch its second straight victory.
Freshman Sydney Moss (Union, Ky.) also finished in double-figures, registering 14 points with seven rebounds and six assists, while sophomore Kayla Lewis (Decatur, Ga.) scored 11 with eight rebounds and a pair of blocks.
George recorded her ninth double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds, in addition to three assists, three blocks and two steals.
“I am happy for so many reasons,” head coach Amanda Butler said. “It seems to always come down to some big battle between us to settle up seeding and gain momentum for the next game and the SEC Tournament."
UF finished 29-of-58 from the field, making exactly half of its shots. It marked the best shooting performance in nearly a month when the Gators shot 58.3 percent from the field against Alabama on February 3.
Tonight’s game was Senior Night, marking the team’s final game at the O’Connell Center for the 2012-13 regular season. UF’s lone senior, George, certainly made it memorable and was later honored in a postgame ceremony.
“Jennifer played like a senior, especially down the stretch and really anchored us in the paint and gave us confidence that whatever was going on, it was going to go Florida's way,” Butler said. “That's what a senior does, especially in her last opportunity to play in front of her fans on her home court."
Florida (17-12, 6-9 SEC) began the game a perfect 3-for-3 on its first three attempts from the field. Two free throws from Bonds gave the Gators an 8-3 at the 15:49 mark of the opening frame.
With 13:36 remaining in the first half, Arkansas’ Dominique Wilson closed UF’s lead to 11-8 following a three-pointer. Back-to-back buckets by Moss and Bonds gave the home team a 15-8 advantage with 13:05 left in the half.
Over the ensuing minutes, the two teams would exchange baskets. That trend continued until the visiting Razorbacks went on a 4-0 run, cutting UF’s lead to two points with 7:57 remaining.
After a Moss lay-up, Arkansas (17-11, 5-10 SEC) was trailing by one point following a three pointer by Quistelle Williams. The teams exchanged baskets before a Bonds old-fashioned three-point play gave the Gators a 28-24 lead with 4:12 left in the frame. The Gainesville, Fla. native is 11-13 on the additional free throw on three-point plays this season.
Florida closed out the half on an 8-0 run, including the Bonds’ three-point play previously mentioned. Bonds had five of the eight final points of the period, while the senior George contributed three points on the run. The host team took a 33-24 lead heading into the locker room.
As a team, the Gators made half of their shots from the field in the first half. It marked the team’s best field goal percentage for the opening frame since UF shot 61.5% from the field against Alabama on February 3.
Bonds recorded 13 points in the opening frame. The junior was able to record her team-leading 20th double-figure scoring game this season in just 20 minutes of play. In her final game at the O’Connell Center, George tallied seven points in the first half.
A George basket to open the second half extended the Gators’ run to 10-0. Eventually, a free throw by Arkansas’ Sarah Watkins would break the UF scoring streak at the 17:42 mark. For a stretch of 7:15 the visiting Razorbacks were held scoreless.
A Kayla Lewis (Decatur, Ga.) three-point play at the 15:00 mark of the second half gave the Gators a 40-28 lead. Arkansas would respond with a lay-up and a free throw on the next two possessions to cut the Florida lead to nine with 14:50 remaining. With shot clock expiring on the ensuing home possession, Bonds let one fly from beyond the arc to restore UF’s 12-point lead.
Once again, a Razorbacks lay-up would cut into the lead. A Carlie Needles (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) three-point bucket would extend the team’s lead to 46-33 with 13:04 left in regulation.
Following an Arkansas free throw, a Lewis lay-up and Moss free throw would give Florida a 49-34 lead with 11:46 remaining. It marked the team’s largest lead of the game. In addition, it was UF’s largest lead since they led Alabama by 34 points on February 3.
The visiting Razorbacks would not give in though. Arkansas went on a 9-0 run over the next 2:22. Lewis would break the streak with a lay-up at the 9:13 mark. After a Razorbacks free throw, she would hit another one to give the host team a 53-44 edge with just over seven minutes remaining.
Another Arkansas run would cut the UF hold to 53-51 with 5:14 left in regulation. A Bonds jumper from just outside the low block would break the streak and give the Gators a four-point lead with 4:53 left.
In less than 30 seconds, Arkansas would tie up the game. A Watkins lay-up, Florida turnover, and Keira Peak lay-up would knot the score at 55-55 at the 4:27 mark.
The Gators would not let the game stay tied for long. On the following possession, the rookie Moss hit a driving lay-up to give the home team a 57-55 lead with 3:55 remaining,
Following a Christin Mercer (Douglasville, Ga.) steal on Arkansas’ next possession, George, hit a jumper to put Florida back up four.
Arkansas’ Calli Berna would trim the deficit to three with a free throw. George would not be denied on her night. She hit another shot to put Florida up five. Freshman January Miller (Orlando, Fla.) then drilled a three-pointer with 1:37 left to give Florida a 64-56 advantage.
After a missed shot by the visiting team, Moss gave the Gators a boost the old fashioned way, as the rookie hit a lay-up, fouled, and made the ensuing free throw with 55 seconds left in the game.
Arkansas’ Watkins tipped one in to make it a 67-58 game, but Miller put the icing on the cake for the Gators. UF would break an Arkansas press the next possession and Miller sank a fast break lay-up with 29 seconds remaining.
UF will be back in action on Sunday, March 3 when it travels to Columbia, S.C., to take on No. 14/13 South Carolina. Sunday’s game will mark Florida’s final game of the 2012-13 regular season. The game is scheduled to tip off at 1 p.m. and will be televised live on SportsSouth, FS Southwest and SunSports.
* Tonight’s game marked the 31st meeting between the Gators and the Razorbacks. UF leads the series 23-8, including a 10-3 record in games played in Gainesville.
* Before tonight’s 11-point win, 11 of the Gators’ 14 SEC games this year had been decided by eight points or less.
* At halftime, the Gators led 33-24. Florida is now 14-2 when leading and 2-10 when trailing at the half.
* Senior forward Jennifer George played her last regular-season game at home as a Gator, making it the 127th of her career and tying for fourth most in program history.
* George scored 13 points, marking this the 19th time this season that she scores in double-figures and the 59th time in her career. In addition, by also grabbing 11 rebounds, she recorded a double-double. This is her 9th double-double this year and the 28th in her career, making her the active leader in double-doubles in the SEC.
* Junior guard Jaterra Bonds started her 75th game which is the ninth longest streak in program history. She is the only Gator to have started in every game this year.
* With her team-high 18 points, Bonds nabbed her team-leading 20th double-figure scoring game of the year; and the 48th in her career. She has led UF in scoring in eight of its SEC games. She also has made her last 6 free throws, leading the team in free throws made and in attempts and is now 11-13 in three-point-play free throws this year.
* Bonds is one assist shy of reaching the 100-assist mark. She would be joining teammate Sydney Moss and the pair would be the second in program history to have 100 assists in the same season since the 2000-01 campaign, when Tombi Bell had 139 and Brandi McCain has 124 assists.
Florida Head Coach Amanda Butler
On the game
"I am happy for so many reasons; obviously, first and foremost, the win and a win in that fashion against a quality opponent. It seems to always come down to some big battle between us to settle up seeding and gain momentum for the next game and the SEC Tournament."
On Jennifer George
"Our fighter was just greater. That's what supposed to happen at home. Jennifer played like a senior, especially down the stretch and really anchored us in the paint and gave us confidence that whatever was going on, it was going to go Florida's way. That's what a senior does, especially in her last opportunity to play in front of her fans on her home court."
On the team’s defense at the end of the game
"Ultimately, our kids got it together on defense because that's where the difference was. We were either fouling and giving second and third chances or letting them get all the way to the rim without the level of awareness we had to have. Especially when Jennifer went back into the game, she was playing with four fouls that made a big difference."
On Jaterra Bonds
"That consistent factor, you just can't overlook that. Jaterra is not scoring 30 and rarely gets up into the 20s, but when you have a player that you know you can count on for double digit points, we know that we're going to get a whole lot of minutes out of her. The defensive tone that she sets, it helps everyone else kind of fall in line. That consistency factor combined with the fire that we all know she has is what makes her the best point guard in this league."
Arkansas Head Coach Tom Collen
On the team’s effort tonight
“We talked about how we really felt like Florida was going to come out and be ultra-aggressive, get in our face, take care of our offense, and that’s what they did. We weren’t very aggressive, we weren’t very poised, and we turned the ball over 13 times. The big difference between that first half and the second half was we came out, only turned the ball over three times, we attacked the basket, and we got to the free throw line. We did a lot of little things that we needed to do to get to the basket.”
On his team’s play in the second half
“I was proud of the way they played in the second half. I thought they did a good job of never giving up. They fought back. They seemed to gather a little confidence on the offensive end. We got to the free throw line early, which was our goal. In the second half, we just didn’t feel like we were in attack mode, we felt like we were taking too many jump shots. Our defense stiffened up a little bit, we got all the way back, and we just fell at the end. We just didn’t get stops. They executed and they made shots against us.”
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