Tuesday November 26, 2013Three Gators net double-figures, as Florida holds off St. John's late rally for win, 72-68
January Miller led the Gators in scoring for the second straight game.
Sophomore January Miller (Orlando, Fla.) scored 17 points and led a trio of Gators in double- figure scoring, as Florida defeated St. John’s, 72-68, Tuesday at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
The Gators led by as many as 21 points with 17:58 left in the second half, when St. John’s went on a furious rally that cut Florida’s lead down to 61-58 with 6:27 remaining in the contest.
Miller, who was coming off a career-high 19 points in UF’s last game, followed her own miss, collected the offensive board in traffic, put up a physical shot that dropped in as she was fouled. Miller drained the free throw to complete the three-point-play and give Florida a 65-60 lead with 4:08 left.
Miller then collected the ensuing defensive board off a quick Red Storm shot.
Florida has some chances to extend its lead, but faltered at the free throw line, where the Gators managed to convert just 17-of-34.
On the other side of the court, St. John’s continued to hit its charity attempts and was able to cut Florida’s lead to two points, 68-66, with 45 seconds remaining.
Carlie Needles (Highlands Ranch, Col.) put up a three-point shot that rattled in and out, but Kayla Lewis (Decatur, Ga.), who played just 15 minutes because of foul trouble, skied for the offensive board and Florida maintained possession.
Senior Jaterra Bonds (Gainesville, Fla.), who entered the game hitting 86.8 percent from the free thrown line, uncharacteristically missed both attempts with 18 seconds on the clock and the Gators still holding the two-point cushion.
Lewis came through again with another offensive board. Knowing St. John’s would probably foul, head coach Amanda Butler inserted sophomore Cassie Peoples (San Antonio, Texas) into the tight game and Peoples came through be getting fouled and calmly nailing two clutch free throws that extended UF’s lead to four, 70-66, with 16 seconds remaining.
After a missed three-pointer by the Red Storm, Lewis collected her third rebound in a 21-second span and was immediately fouled. Lewis stepped to the line and knocked down both tries with six seconds to go and sealed the win.
Sophomore Christin Mercer (Douglasville, Ga.) came off the bench and scored 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting, with a team-best seven rebounds, while Bonds added 13 points for Florida, which forced 23 turnovers and converted those into 31 points.
VIDEO: Postgame Press Conference:
Updated Records: Florida: 4-2 … St. John’s: 4-1
· After St. John’s Aliyyah Handford’s layup with 5:55 left in the game cut the Gator lead to 62-60, sophomore January Miller’s three-point-play gave the Gators the 65-60 edge and halted the Red Storm’s momentum.
· Three Gators scored in double-figures and every player who suited up contributed with a score.
· The game marked the fifth time this season that every Gator player who suited up recorded at least one point.
Leading at the Half:
· Including tonight when the Gators led 43-25 at halftime, Florida improved to 100-17 all-time under Coach Butler when leading at the break, including 4-0 this season
Non-SEC Home Games:
· With the win, the Gators now boast an impressive 51-6 home record against non-conference teams under head coach Amanda Butler.
Numbers of Note:
· Jaterra Bonds started her 76th consecutive game
· Senior Jaterra Bonds and Lily Svete both played in their respective 110th career game
· Bonds posted her 16th consecutive double-figure scoring game
· Sophomore January Miller drained the first three-pointer of the night for the Gators at the start of the second half, while extending her scoring streak to 35 consecutive games – the longest active streak by a current Gator
· Sophomore Christin Mercer recorded her 225th career point tonight after totaling 16
· Three Gators recorded double-digit scoring figures
· Carlie Needles and Cassie Peoples were perfect from the free throw line tonight for the fourth and fifth time this season, respectively.
Quotes from the Court:
Florida Head Coach Amanda Butler
“I’m just really proud of the way we played even in the bad spots. I thought we had a great mental approach and a great deal of toughness in this ball game throughout, even when things didn’t go our way. Everybody stepped up and made plays at different times that really made the momentum shift, put the point differential in a place where we had control. So great team win. I’m just really proud all the way around against a very good team I’ve got to give St. John’s a lot of credit for their fight. The things that they did to counter what we were doing. This was a big win for us.”
On what the difference between the first and the second half:
“We held them to 25 points in the first half, which I was just ecstatic about because that’s something we’ve been working on. Then we had given up 25 by the 10-minute mark. That just continues to be the thorn in our side of defensive consistency; recognizing as individuals, ‘what are they doing to me?’ Again, I thought St. John’s did a great job of adjusting and said ‘hey we’re just going to get to the rim’. Whether they’re in man or zone and we didn’t do a good job of handling that, but I’m sure the film will show us a lot more and there will be other opportunities for us to learn. That first half was something to build on, defensively. That was a great effort and that’s what we want to look like for 40 minutes.”
On the first half:
“We really wanted to make sure we were controlling the paint. We wanted to do that a lot with our fives and we also wanted to get Jan (Miller) and get JT (Jaterra Bonds), get everybody to the rim. We didn’t want to settle for outside shots and didn’t really shoot the ball that great tonight, but we didn’t take as many (three-pointers) and that’s another thing that really shows the growth of our team. Only taking nine three’s when that’s not working; and just making sure we’re continuing to penetrate and dictate the paint because that’s ultimately where typically the ball game is going to be decided.”
Florida junior Kayla Lewis
On her rebounding abilities:
“That was one of the things we were lacking in last little minutes of being in rebound trouble. You know, getting to watch a lot of that when I went in. I knew it was something that needs urgency and that’s something on the team that I bring specially, uniquely. A lot of people can’t rebound the way that I do. I knew that I was going to be important and we just needed possession because the clock was against us. At the time, we were only up by four points, so more possession was more important. I was just glad that I could step in there and do something for the team.”
Florida sophomore Christen Mercer
On how she is feeling:
“It felt great. In practice, I want to say two days before (tonight), my ankle was starting to feel like itself, so just to get back out there and help my team succeed was really great for me. It was an awesome feeling.”
Florida sophomore January Miller
On the frustration of St. Johns cutting the lead:
“It was crazy, but we needed to dig down on defense. I’m just glad we had enough fight to finish it out and I think it’s great that we were able to finish it out because in past games we haven’t, but we just really have to work on that.”
On collecting her own missed shot that resulted in a three-point play:
“I was mad I missed the shot. So I was like ‘I need to get this rebound.’ I knew they were going to foul me; it was a matter of making sure I finished and I just felt good when I was going down. I felt like it was going in. At the moment it was great.”
St. John’s Head Coach Joe Tartamella
“I was really happy with our effort in the second half, but that should have been our effort in the first half and the result would have been different. I was happy with how we came back. We just dug too deep of a hole. We allowed Florida to do what they are good at. We actually didn’t give up that many threes, but we allowed them to get to the rim and to the foul line. I thought we fouled too much. We were the less disciplined team today.”
“I thought we were more disciplined in the second half. We took better shots, shots that we practiced. I thought we didn’t turn the ball over. We shut them down on our side defensively by making it more difficult for them. We made a minor adjustment in the second half with some people guarding different people in the second half for us, which I thought helped. We had a let down on the rebounding side of things where we gave up too many crucial opportunities. Unfortunately, it hurt us and we had to deal with foul trouble most of the game.”
· Following Tuesday evening’s game, the Gators will be on a bus at 4:40 a.m. (!!) on Wednesday to begin their travel to the Bahamas to compete in the Junkanoo Jam.
· Florida meets Illinois State (0-3) in the first round on Friday, while nationally-ranked Penn State (3-1) and Oregon State (4-0) compete in the other first round contest. Championship and consolation games will be played Saturday.
· This will be the third time the Gators are competing in the Junkanoo Jam.
· Florida won the consolation game in November of 2004, first falling to Iowa (65-62), before defeating Akron (77-38) in Freeport on Grand Bahamas Island.
· The Gators captured the conch shelled trophy in November of 2008, when they defeated Southern Illinois (67-56) and Arizona State (65-60).
Illinois State (0-3) vs. Florida (4-2)
St. Georges High School Gym (1,200) * Freeport, Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas
Fri., Nov. 29, 2013 * 1 p.m. ET
* Junkanoo Jam First Round *
Game Coverage & More!
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Internet Scoring: TBA
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