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Sunday March 24, 2013Women's Basketball Plays at Winthrop in WNIT Second Round on Monday


Florida (19-14) plays Winthrop (21-11) in the second round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament on Monday at the Winthrop Arena in Rock Hill, S.C, where tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.


In the Gator’s WNIT first round win at FIU on Thursday, freshman Sydney Moss scored a career-high 28 points and junior Jaterra Bonds totaled 19 points with a season-high seven rebounds and a game-high five rebounds in leading Florida to a 75-68 win. The Gators shot 51.9 percent in the second half, when they held the Panthers to a 20 percent clip and outscored the hosts by nine points to overcome a 38-36 halftime deficit.


Winthrop also trailed at halftime of its first round road game to Florida Gulf Coast, which managed to connect on 12 three-pointers but was held to a 29.5 percent overall shooting effort. Winthrop, which earned its first-ever postseason win, played just six players in the victory, with 2013 Big South Player of the Year Dequesh McClanahan and 2013 Big South Freshman of the Year Schaquilla Nunn both netting double-doubles of 19 points and 12 rebounds, and 17 points and 13 rebounds, respectively.


McClanhan averages 19.9 points along with 5.8 assists along with 5.4 rebounds to lead Winthrop.


“They’re very good. This is a really impressive team,” UF head coach Amanda Butler said. “I’ve been impressed by everything we’ve seen on film. They’re very tough to stop in transition and they are dynamic. They have five kids on the floor that can threaten. They have great team speed and a fantastic shooter and point guard that was player of the year in their conference again. They have great size on the inside with Nun, who was freshmen of the year in their conference. Their first five in particular is very imposing, but it gives a lot of challenges in a lot of different ways. They’re very dynamic and threatening off ball screens, but they are a very good team and very well coached.”


Monday’s game will be the first-ever meeting between Florida and Winthrop on the hardwood.


The WNIT second round game will be the third consecutive contest the Gators will be facing a conference player of the year, as Florida battled Tennessee and SEC Player of the Year Meighan Simmons on March 8 in the SEC Tournament quarterfinal, before facing FIU’s Jerica Coley, the Sun Belt Conference’s top honoree who scored 37 points in the WNIT opening round contest.


“There’s a lot of similarities, which is very scary,” said Butler of comparing Winthrop’s McClanahan to Coley. “Obviously, Coley did a great job against us. She got to the free throw line, some of which we couldn’t really control. But, they are very similar. Both have the ball in their hands a lot and take more shots than anyone else. Both have a great deal of confidence that’s backed up by a great deal of talent and skill.”


While Florida has made five previous trips to the postseason, the current group of Gators was a bit lean on postseason experience of any kind entering 2013. Only senior Jennifer George and juniors Jaterra Bonds and Lily Svete had played in a postseason game.


George, the lone senior on the 2012-13 roster, is playing in a postseason tournament for her fourth year. She has played in all possible eight games, starting the 2013 WNIT first round game and both NCAA Tournament outings in 2012. In eight postseason games, George is averaging 7.0 points and 6.5 rebounds, recording one double-double: 10 pts, 11 reb. at FGCU, March 21, 2011 in the second round of the WNIT.


This season George leads the Gators in rebounding (7.9), steals (1.9) and blocks (49) and ranks second for scoring (11.3 pg) and field goal percentage (47.4%)


Bonds is playing in the postseason for the third year and has started three of the six games she has played. She has scored in double-figures in five of the games, with a career-high 23 points at Charlotte on March 24, 2011 in the third round of the WNIT. Bonds averages 14.8 points in postseason games, hitting 76 percent (19-25) of her free throws. In the seven-point win at FIU in the 2013 WNIT first round, Bonds recorded 19 points, a season-high seven rebounds and five assists and sealed the victory at the free throw line where she converted 3-of-4  in the final 41.3 seconds.


Svete also is enjoying the postseason for a third straight year. Svete has played in five of the possible six postseason games during her career, starting the 2013 WNIT opening-round win. She has totaled eight points, six coming from the three-point arc.


Moss, a member of the 2013 Southeastern Conference All-Freshman Team, had a phenomenal postseason debut, scoring a career-high 28 points with six rebounds in the win against FIU.


Over the last two games, Moss has logged a back-to-back career-high scoring effort en route to averaging 25.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game while hitting 51.1 percent (23-45) of her shots. Moss scored 22 against Tennessee in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals and tagged FIU with 28 in the WNIT first round.


“I think her numbers speak for themselves,” Butler said of Moss. “She’s had a level of consistency that demonstrates a high level of play. She’s had a lot of double-doubles in non-conference play that gave folks a glimpse of what they are going to get from her and what she is capable of. She’s just really built on that. The thing that most don’t get to appreciate about her because you don’t see it on display is how much she watches film and how much work she has put in as she tries to get better in different elements of her game. She’s realizing where she is best, where she needs to turn down shots and where she can make a difference on the defensive end also. She’s done all those things and I’m really proud of how she has pursued her best.”


Moss is the Gator leader in assists (3.8 apg), ranks second on the team for rebounding (6.5 rpg) and steals (1.4 pg), while ranking third for scoring (11.2 ppg). She has totaled three double-doubles and flirted with a triple-double five times. Moss has been the Gator’s game leader for assists 17 times, for rebounding 10 times and scoring eight times.


During that same two-game span, Bonds is contributing 18.5 points while hitting 48.0 percent (12-25) from the floor, 66.7 percent (2-3) from the three-point arc and 78.6 percent (11-14) from the free throw line. Overall, Bonds is averaging a team-leading 12.9 points with 3.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists (second on the team) per game, while netting a team-best 25 double-figure scoring games.


As a team, Florida is hitting 37.9 percent from beyond the arc over the last two outings, with freshman Carlie Needles drilling 6-of-12 (50%).


Overall, 18 of Florida’s game this season have been decided by 10 points or less (9-9 record), including its come-from-behind WNIT first round win against FIU.


“I’d like to see a much better defensive effort, collectively and also from beginning to end,” Butler said of the team’s performance against the Panthers. “I felt like we played good defense and had good adjustments in spots, but from beginning and end from our last game out, I think that we played more flat defense in the first 20 minutes. We can’t underestimate on someone else’s home court, especially in the postseason, how important that is.”




Florida (19-14, 6-10 SEC) at Winthrop (21-11, 14-4 Big South)

Mon., March 25, 2013 * 7 p.m., ET

2013 WNIT Second Round

Winthrop Coliseum (6,000) * Rock Hill, S.C.





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Opening Tip

*the Gators are making their 20th all-time postseason appearance

(13 NCAA, 6 WNIT and 1 NWIT); 19th postseason in the last 21 years

*UF has earned a postseason berth all six years under Coach Butler

*18 of UF’s 33 games have been decided by 10 points or less (9-9)

*11 of UF’s 16 SEC regular-season games were decided by 8 points or less

*Florida has played 73 games over the last four seasons with outcomes decided by 10 points or less - that’s an AVERAGE of 18 games per season of thrillers!

*Prior to 2013, only three Gators on the current roster had ever played in a postseason game (Jaterra Bonds, Jennifer George & Lily Svete)



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