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The Gators staged the fourth-largest comeback win in program history.

Saturday December 28, 2013Gators Rally from Down 16 to Top Georgetown in Overtime Thriller

Gainesville, Fla.

The Gators staged the fourth-largest comeback win in program history.

Senior Jaterra Bonds (Gainesville, Fla.) scored a career-high 26 points and gave Florida its first lead of the game three seconds into overtime as the Gators overcame a 16-point halftime deficit and completed the fourth-largest comeback win in program history with a 67-65 victory against Georgetown on Saturday in the O’Connell Center.

 

The game was the final non-conference contest for both teams.

 

The Gators won the overtime tip and it took Bonds three seconds to drive to the basket, where she converted the layin and completed the three-point-play that gave Florida a 61-58 lead, its first of the game.

 

Georgetown center Natalie Butler, who led the visitors with 16 points and 18 rebounds, closed the gap with a layup, but the Gators kept the lead at three on the next possession when Kayla Lewis (Decatur, Ga.) knocked down two free throws with 2:43 to play in the bonus period and Florida held a 63-60 edge with 2:43 on the clock.

 

January Miller (Orlando, Fla.), who had just been re-inserted into the game, came up with a defensive steal and the Gators took advantage, as sophomore Cassie Peoples (San Antonio, Texas) drilled a 25-footer as the shot clock was expiring that lifted the Gators to a 66-60 edge with 1:57 on the clock.

 

GU’s Faifth Woodward answered with a trey on the other end 15 seconds later and kept the difference between the two teams at three.

 

The Gators committed their 18th turnover of the game on their next possession and Woodard made it count for GU, as her off-balance two-point jumper banked in off the glass with 25.1 to play, and the Gator lead was down to one, 66-65.

 

Florida nearly turned the ball over again, but called a timeout with 17 seconds to go to set up its next series. Bonds drove hard and was fouled. She made the first free throw that was her career-high 26th point and more importantly gave Florida a 67-65 lead, but missed the second with 15 seconds remaining.

 

Martin missed her three-point try with nine seconds left and Bonds corralled the defensive board to close out Florida’s comeback.

 

Florida was woeful in the first half when it committed 12 of its 18 turnovers and dug itself a 34-18 halftime hole.

 

The Gators, however, never quit and found a way to tie the game at 46 with 6:23 remaining in regulation, at 55 with 2:23 on the clock, and after Woodard converted a pair of free throws with 27 seconds left that gave the Hoyas a 58-55 lead, Bonds found Peoples for an open three, and the sophomore, who had missed nine of her first 10 shots from the field, including all four from deep, delivered from beyond the arc and brought the O’Connell Center crowd to its feet with 20.9 to play in regulation and tied the score at 58.

 

Martin’s three-pointer at the buzzer missed the mark for the Hoyas and the game headed into overtime.

 

The Gators outscored Georgetown 40-24 in the second half, when they shot 46.9 percent after a 20.8 percent mark in the first 20 minutes. The Hoyas, who won the rebounding battle 52-34, hit 50 percent of their shots in the first half, but just 28 percent in the second.

 

The opening five minutes of the game witnessed back and forth action, with each team struggling to find a groove. Miller and Bonds tallied a pair of baskets as the Gators trailed 7-4 at the under-16 timeout. Florida struggled from the field as Georgetown went on a 10-1 run to increase its lead to 17-5, forcing Florida to take a timeout at 10:36.

 

Bonds ended Florida’s 9:40 field goal drought with 6:36 left in the half. The senior followed the basket up with a fast break layup to cut the deficit to 21-12, forcing the Hoyas to take a timeout at the 6:01 mark. After cutting the lead to seven, Georgetown proceeded to go on a 13-4 run to take a 34-18 lead into the locker room. Florida shot a mere 20.8 percent from the field and did not make a shot from outside in opening half.

 

Bonds was Florida’s first half leader with 11 points with three field goals and five made free throws. Georgetown’s size was evident early as the Hoyas scored 24 of 34 points inside the paint compared to Florida’s six. However, the second half produced opposite results. Florida’s defense tightened up inside, allowing eight points inside the rest of the way.

 

Florida opened up the second half on a 11-0 run, cutting the Hoyas lead to 34-29, with baskets from Bonds, Ronni Williams (Daytona Beach, Fla.), Lily Svete (Granger, Ind.) and Carlie Needles (Highlands Ranch, Col.). The Gators cut the lead down to two and were down five after Georgetown’s Jade Martin connected on a three-point shot. Bonds responded with a jump shot with 7:26 left in the second half, moving the Gators within three, down 46-43. Coming out of the timeout, Bonds completed a three-point play when she was fouled on a layup in transition.

 

After the Gators tied the game for the first time since the opening tip, Georgetown rattled off four consecutive points and began shooting in the double bonus after Christin Mercer (Douglasville, Ga.), who was 27-33 from the field in the Gators previous three wins, fouled out. A Hoya foul at the 5:16 mark put Miller at the line as the Gators began shooting in the double-bonus down 51-47.

 

After a Georgetown basket, Peoples ended a 0-9 shooting start with a layup of her own. At the under four-minute timeout, Georgetown led 55-53. Miller snuck behind a screen and Bonds found her teammate for an open layup to tie the game at 55-55 with 2:23 left. Faith Woodward made the first free throw to push the Hoyas ahead 56-55, and the Gators ensuing offensive possession resulted in a turnover. Woodward was fouled and made both free throws to set up the final scene in regulation.

 

Florida will head into conference play with a 10-3 record after capping off a perfect 6-0 December.

 

Dandy December

·         The Gators finished 6-0 this month and enjoyed their first perfect record in December since the 2008-09 squad went 7-0.

 

Double-Digit Gators

·         Bonds scored 26 points to finish in double figures for the 11th time this season and 67th time in her career. Bonds’ game represented her fifth 20-point game and 10th of her career. Bonds’ 21st point was the 1,300th of her career.

·         Peoples cranked out her eighth double-digit scoring game of the season and career. Peoples tallied 10 points despite shooting 3-14 from the field.

·         January Miller scored 13 points to end her afternoon in double figures for the ninth time this season and 17th time in her career.

·         Five different Gators have scored 20+ points in a game this year: Bonds (five times), Lewis, Mercer, Miller and Peoples

 

By the Numbers

·         Florida’s 16-point deficit was the largest margin the team recovered from this year to win the game. The second largest comeback this year was 10 points against Oregon State on Nov. 30.

·         Florida is now 3-2 in games decided by single digits. Over the last 81 games, Florida is 43-38 in games decided by 10 points or less.

·         The Gators are now 19-20 all-time in overtime games and ended a five game overtime losing streak. The last Gator home overtime game was last year’s 78-75 loss to Tennessee on Jan. 13. The last Gator overtime win was an 80-78 victory over Mississippi State in double overtime on Feb. 7, 2010.

·         The Gators shot 46.9 in the second half after shooting 20.8 in the first half, and finished the game at 34.9 percent. UF improved to 2-2 when shooting under 40 percent.

·         The Gators forced 31 turnovers and are now 10-2 when the opponent turns the ball over 17 or more times.

·         Georgetown outrebounded the Gators 52-34, the largest margin the Gators have been beaten on the glass this year. Ironically, Florida moves to 5-1 when being outrebounded.

·         Florida scored 25 points off turnovers. This marked the ninth time this year that the Gators have scored 20+ points off turnovers.

·         For the ninth time this season, every Gator scored.

·         When a UF player scores 20 points or more, the Gators are 5-2.

·         Florida attempted 24 free throws and made 18 of the tries. The Gators are now 8-3 when attempting 20 or more free throws.

 

Bonds, Jaterra Bonds

·         Bonds has been doing it all, entering the game averaging 15.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.8 steals, while hitting 66-81 (81.5%) free throws. Tonight, Bonds tallied 26 points, six rebounds, five assists, three steals and hit 10 of 13 (76.9%) of free throws.

 

Individual Numbers of Note

·         Svete’s first-half three-pointer represented the 111th consecutive game a Florida player has made a three.

·         Miller scored in her 41st consecutive game, the longest active streak by a current Gator. Miller finished with 13 points.

·         Miller and Peoples both played in their 50th career game.

·         Bonds entered the game averaging 6.8 free throws attempts per game. The senior went to the line 13 times and made 10 free throws.

·         Peoples’ game-tying three-point shot at the end of regulation was her 150th career point.

 

Gator Starting ‘5’

·         Senior Jaterra Bonds started her 83rd straight game; 96th of her career.

·         Junior Kayla Lewis started her 13th straight game; 41st of career.

·         Sophomore January Miller started her 14th career game.

·         Senior Lily Svete started her 28th straight game; 46th of her career.

·         Sophomore Cassie Peoples started her fifth career game.

·         The starting combination of Svete, Miller, Bonds, Peoples and Lewis was used for the third consecutive game.

 

The Series vs. Georgetown

·         The Gators are 3-1 all-time against the Hoyas, with each program winning on the other’s home court and Florida taking the one neutral site decision.

·         This was the first meeting between the two programs since Dec. 7, 1997, when Florida topped GU, 74-63, in Washington, D.C.

 

Updated Records: Florida 10-3 … Georgetown 6-6

 

Quotes from the Court:

Florida Head Coach Amanda Butler

Opening statement

“Today was a very, very hard fought battle. First, you’ve got to give Georgetown a ton of credit for the fight they displayed and the way they came out. The game plan that their coach put together obviously dictated the first 20 minutes of basketball.  I’m very proud of my team to come out of the locker room and change that. We thrive off of scoring points, tempo and that sort of thing. We really fell in line with what they wanted us to do in the first 20 minutes and played Florida basketball the final 25 minutes.”

 

On what made the difference in the last 25 minutes of play       

“Obviously, halftime gives you a chance to regroup. Some things you point out are obvious and other things aren’t so obvious. The team had a chance to sit in the locker room and talk about what’s wrong, the positives and the negatives. They write those down on the board and discuss before the coaches come in. And then obviously we come in with a big challenge to their hearts and their toughness because I just didn’t think we played with the level of toughness that represents who we are. You never want to be in a situation when you’re being less than who you are or different than who you are when your identity is so positive, because ours is. The way we play is so positive. Let’s make that most important; let’s not let someone else’s agenda be more important than ours. Obviously, they responded to that message very well.”

 

On how Jaterra Bonds carried the team today

“I said this on the radio after the game, too – it’s something we never take for granted, but at the same time it’s something we completely expect out of Jaterra. She’s just special and unique in that way. She knows that. She knows that we need her to do that. One of the things that makes Jaterra so special is that she’s willing to do whatever it takes to win. If that’s score points, she’s going to do that. If it’s rebounds, she’ll do that. I had no question when that ball came off the rim on the last shot whose hands it was going to be in because she’s a fighter and she embodies all of the things we’ve talked about that we wanted to be in that final 25 minutes of basketball. She just considers that part of her job.”

 

On going into conference play

“We feel tested. We had a very difficult November. We had a lot of adversity in November, handling injuries and people who weren’t available to us. Going into December, we were still a couple of folks down, but we adjusted to that. We had big games from different players almost every single night. Last time we were talking about Christin Mercer with 31 points and tonight we’re talking about Jaterra with a career-high 26 points. We’ve had games where we were talking about Kayla Lewis; we’ve had games where we were talking about January Miller. That’s what makes us so hard to guard. We purposely put together this type of schedule, so that when we hit SEC play, we know we’ve been tested. Those losses are representation of being battletested and hopefully having a sense of readiness. Going into January, we’re going to face the toughest competition night-in and night-out, here and on the road. It’s what our conference represents – it’s the best top-to-bottom and we want to feel ready for that.”

 

On Cassie People’ big shots late in the game

“Big time players play for those moments. Whatever has happened in the previous 40 minutes, they’re still ready to make the next play. I think that’s the mentality that Cassie had today. I’m really proud of her for that because I think that’s something she’s matured into. In November, she didn’t play that way. It would have been hard for her to rebound from a slow start. She had the confidence to take those big shots tonight and I think her teammates were very confident that she was going to knock them down as well.”

 

On the home crowd

“It was an awesome crowd. When you go into overtime, there’s one team that’s excited and there’s one team that thinks ‘shoot, we didn’t win in regulation.’ We were the team that was excited today.”

 

 

UF Senior Guard Jaterra Bonds

On the significance of the win

“We got a little statistic that the last time we went undefeated in December, in 2008-09, I believe, we ended up going to the NCAA tournament and we played well. That was a little extra motivation and extra fire under our belts. This win is a quality win because we were able to fight back. Going into the next part of the season, SEC play, our games are going to be even tougher and just like this. So, this game is preparation.”

 

On her career game today

“They played us in zones, so I didn’t want to settle. I was just trying to be aggressive and no one can stop me from getting to the shoulder, from getting to the paint. If my team needed me to score points, they can count on me to make the bucket. I was just trying to be aggressive.”

 

On playing for a NCAA Tournament spot

“We have to get there [NCAA Tournament]. Not only because it’s my senior season, but we haven’t been there since my sophomore year, I believe. We have no choice but to make it. In my heart, that’s how I feel, that we have no choice.”

 

Georgetown Head Coach Jim Lewis

On the game…

“For the continued growth of women’s college basketball we hope there were millions and millions of young girls and boys and followers of the sport who were riveted to their seats because it was a heck of a performance from both teams. We give Florida all the credit of coming back from a deficit. We knew how good they were and that they would make runs and that they weren’t going to go 0-for-30 from three-point range as they were in the first half, they didn’t make a three-pointer. But I’m really so excited to be the coach of this Georgetown team. We saw a lot of freshmen, who have played significant roles already, but we saw them really mature on the floor in a tough environment. It’s fun to watch. I really feel that we are prepared for Big East conference play now.”

 

On Overtime…

“I know we both had chances to win at the end. Jade Martin hit a big shot that allowed us to have a chance to win and it was Bonds and Peoples that hit big shots for Florida. That’s what big-time players do. We have a team full of them and Florida has a team full of them. It was so nice to have Faith Woodard come home to her home state and play in front of family and friends and play as well as she did. She did call ‘bank’ on that shot, I was right next to her. It was a lot of fun. You know, winning and losing are all a part of sport and a part of the learning process of life. So here we are now at 6-6, but I have a hungry group of Hoyas in there that are excited to get better.”

 

 

What’s Next?

Florida opens its Southeastern Conference slate on Thursday, January 2 at home against Mississippi State.

 

Mississippi State (12-1+) at Florida (10-3)

Stephen C. O’Connell Center (11,373) * Gainesville, Fla.

Thu., January 2 * 7 p.m.

 

+The Lady Bulldogs play host to Mississippi Valley State on Dec. 30 prior to Thursday’s SEC-opener.

 

Game Coverage & More!

·         Radio: LIVE on ESPN850 WRUF-AM in Gainesville with Adam Schick & Brittany Davis

·         Internet Audio: LIVE thru www.Gatorzone.com (FREE)

·         Television: SunSports (Cox Ch. 48/1048; DirecTV 653) in North Florida territory; FS Florida (DirecTV 654) in South Florida territory; with Mick Hubert and Mark Wise

·         Internet Video: LIVE on Gatorvision.tv (subscription)

·         Internet Scoring: LIVE thru GatorZone.com (FREE)

·         O’Connell Center Press Row: 352-367-1801

·         Tickets: $5 for reserved seats; $4 adult general admission; $2 for youth age 17 and under; FREE for UF and Santa Fe students

·         Parking: FREE in the O’Connell Center lot

 

For all of the latest information on Florida women’s basketball:

Official Website: www.gatorzone.com/basketball/women

Facebook: www.facebook.com/FloridaWomensBasketball

Twitter: @GatorZoneWBK  and  @CoachButlerUF 

 

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