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Kayla Lewis scored 18 points with eight rebounds and for steals for the Gators.

Friday March 7, 2014Gators Drop Thriller to No. 14/15 Kentucky in SEC Quarterfinal

Duluth, GA

Kayla Lewis scored 18 points with eight rebounds and for steals for the Gators.

Each of the last eight games between Florida and Kentucky have been decided by 10 points or less and despite a game-high 18 points from both Kayla Lewis and Cassie Peoples the Wildcats claimed the 75-70 decision in the Southeastern Conference Tournament quarterfinals at The Arena at Gwinnett Center on Friday.


Friday’s game featured 13 lead changes and eight tied scores, similar to the two regular-season meetings won the Gators that featured a combined 19 lead changes and 11 tied scores.


The Gators grabbed a 36-29 halftime lead, but fourth-seeded Kentucky began the second half on a 15-8 run and tied the game with 14:04 remaining.


The teams went back and forth, with Peoples putting the Gators up four after a three-pointer with 13:24 on the clock, before Kentucky scored five consecutive points for a 51-50 edge.


Lily Svete answered with a three-pointer that swung the lead back Florida’s direction. The Wildcats used an 8-1 spurt and took a 59-54 lead and after a bucket from Lewis, UK nailed a three and took a 66-60 advantage for its largest lead of the game with 6:35 remaining.


The teams again traded scored before January Miller and Ronni Williams converted back-to-back buckets and the

Gators were within two, 66-64, with 4:40 remaining.


UK scored the next four points and regained its six-point advantage with 2:15 on the clock, before Peoples drilled consecutive three-pointers and tied the score at 70 with 1:29 left to play.


Unfortunately for the Gators, those would be the last points they would score, as UK posted the final five points of the game, as Florida missed a pair of three-pointers, turned the ball over once and allowed a pair of offensive rebounds that UK took advantage of to post two of its 16 second-chance points thanks to 18 offensive rebounds.


Jaterra Bonds, who with Svete played in the 135th game of their respective careers and tied Jennifer George (2009-13) for the most played in UF history, ended the game with 10 points and seven rebounds.


Updated Records: Florida 19-12 … Kentucky 23-7


First Half at a Glance

·         Gators took a 36-29 halftime lead.

·         The first half featured 10 lead change and four tied scores.

·         Kayla Lewis led all scorers with 11 points, along with 4 rebounds and 4 steals

·         Gators closed half on an 11-2 run after UK took a 27-25 lead with 5:45 remaining.

·         UK scored 10 second-chance points thanks to 10 offensive rebounds and an overall rebounding advantage of 20-13


Stat of the Game

·         Kentucky held the decisive 42-29 rebounding advantage that included 18 offensive rebounds that the Wildcats converted into 16 second-chance points.


What’s Next?

·         The Gators now await word of their postseason fate.

·         The NCAA Tournament field of 64 will be announced on Mon., March 17 at 7 p.m. ET via ESPN.

·         First round games will be played at 16 predetermined arenas on March 22 and 23.



·         Friday’s five-point decision was UF’s 17 th game this year decided by 10 points or less (10-7 record)


Gators at the SEC Tournament:

·         Thursday’s win marked the fourth consecutive year the Gators have won their first game in the SEC Tournament.

·         Florida is now 19-34 all-time in SEC Tournament games, including 5-7 under Amanda Butler.

·         UF holds a 4-17 all-time record in the SEC Tournament quarterfinal round.

·         The last time the Gators advanced to the semifinals was in 1998 when UF was the No. 2 seed and the event held in Columbus, Ga. Current assistant coach Murriel Page was a senior All-American that season.


The Series vs. Kentucky

·         The 50-game series against Kentucky is the seventh-longest in Florida history.

·         Kentucky leads the 50-game series, 26-24, including a 4-2 record in SEC Tournament match ups.

·         The Gators defeated the Wildcats 83-73 in the Jan. 5 meeting this year, snapping UK’s six-game run in the series and completed the regular-season sweep with an 86-80 win on Feb. 9 in Gainesville.

·         Each of the last eight games in the series have been decided by 10 points or less.


Fourth Time, Three Times

·         Friday’s meeting against Kentucky was the third game between the two teams this year, with the Gators winning both regular-season contests.

·         In seven years under Head Coach Amanda Butler, was the fourth time the Gators played one opponent three times in the same year.

·         In 2011-12: vs. Kentucky, 0-3

·         In 2010-11: vs. Tennessee, 0-3

·         In 2007-08: vs. South Carolina, UF won series 2-1 (split regular-season games)


Share the Wealth

·         For the 18th time this year, every Gator who played in the game, scored in the game.


Career Climbing

·         Seniors Jaterra Bonds & Lily Svete played in the 135th game of their respective careers, tied with each other and Jennifer George (2009-13) for the most in UF history.

·         Jaterra Bonds started the 114th game of her career, the fifth-most in UF history (No. 4 is 115 by Talatha Bingham, 1996-99)


Point Taken

·         Ronni Williams scored her 250th career point

·         Lily Svete scored her 500th career point

·         Cassie Peoples scored her 325th career point


Dishing the Goods

·         Carlie Needles dished her 100th career assist

·         Jaterra Bonds dished her 431st career assist that moved her into a tie for the fourth-most in UF history with Tombi Bell, 1999-01 (No. 3 is 497 by Mahogany Hudson, 1994-98)



·         Sophomore Carlie Needles fouled out of a game for the first time in her career.


Streaks & Stuff

·         Jaterra Bonds scored in her 56th consecutive game scoring - the longest active streak by a current Gator

·         Bonds started for the 101st consecutive game, the third-longest streak in program history (second-longest is 109 by Murriel Page, 1994-98).

·         Florida connected on a three-pointer for the 128th consecutive game (last time did not: Nov. 30, 2010 vs. Old Dominion)


Local Flavor

·         Redshirt junior Kayla Lewis is a native of the Peach State and is from Decatur, located just 18 miles from Duluth.


Lewis’ Home Away From Home

·         Redshirt junior Kayla Lewis played the final high school game of her career at The Arena at Gwinnett Center, leading Southwest DeKalb (Ga.) High School in 2010 to a successful defense of its Class AAAA State Championship, scoring 20 points in the final versus Northwest Whitfield en route to the Panthers winning their third consecutive state title.

·         In the 2009 title game - also played at The Arena at Gwinnett Center - Lewis totaled 16 points and 15 rebounds against Fayette County and was named MVP of the 2009 state tournament.

·         The 2010 Georgia Gatorade Player of the Year who also was named 2010 Miss Georgia Basketball, totaled during her four-year prep career 1,349 points (13.8 ppg), 691 rebounds (7.1 rpg), 162 steals (1.7 spg), 151 assists (1.5 apg) and 140 blocked shots (1.4 pg), while shooting 52 percent from the floor.

·         This year, Lewis is averaging 11.6 points and 8.7 rebounds per game and has started every game for the Gators.



Postgame Quotes with UF Head Coach Amanda Butler, Cassie Peoples and Kayla Lewis courtesy FastScripts by ASAP

Head Coach Amanda Butler:

Opening remarks:

·         “Have to give Kentucky a lot of credit for the way they played, in particular the second half.  It was just a great SEC ballgame.  Two really good teams.  My opinion, best in the country battling the way you would expect them to play this time of year.  Unfortunately, just came up a little bit short.  Had some critical breakdowns in really timely moments.”


Q.  Coach, you had success against Kentucky during the regular season.  What was the difference in this one?

·         COACH BUTLER:  Second half we answered a couple times, then we just had some timely defensive breakdowns.  The rebounding battle, one of our goals is to neutralize that.  We're trying to always scratch around and make plays off the boards as much as we can.  We didn't do a good job with that.

·         In the second half, that was really what was keeping them afloat.  I thought we were playing great basketball, but kept giving them second chances.  A good team's going to take advantage of that.


Q.  Cassie, you stepped up late and hit two really big threes.  What was your mindset at that point?

·         CASSIE PEOPLES:  Pretty much the same mindset I have every game:  hit open shots that I'm given.  Our team needed a little bit of spark.  I just felt that was a perfect opportunity.


Q.  How was it inside?  Was there something they did different on you?

·         KAYLA LEWIS:  I don't think there's anything they did different on me.  Kentucky is a great team.  They have a lot of people.  Not just their post players, but their guards rebound as well.  It's everybody's job when you play a team like this to rebound, not just the people inside.

·         When you don't capitalize like that, you give the other team 13 more opportunities to score, which we did tonight.  I give Kentucky credit for that.  I don't think there's anything special that they did.




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