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Casey Prather and the Gators were swarmed by UConn on Saturday in a 63-53 loss.

Saturday April 5, 2014FINALITY: Magical Season for Gators Comes to End

Casey Prather and the Gators were swarmed by UConn on Saturday in a 63-53 loss.

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Gators' victory march toward the Final Four, one they hoped included two more wins and a national championship, abruptly ended Saturday with a 63-53 loss to Connecticut in the national semifinals.

For a team that had so much go right during a school-record 30-game win streak, little went Florida's way Saturday at AT&T Stadium.

The Gators committed too many careless turnovers. They couldn't hit 3-point shots. And ultimately, they couldn't hold onto an early 12-point lead that vanished in a hurry late in the first half.

The Gators never recovered and finished the season at 36-3. The 36 wins are a school record, but a third national championship was not to be.

Florida's magical season came to an end with a cruel twist: a second loss to the Huskies. The Gators had not lost since a Dec. 2 trip to UConn that ended with a 65-64 loss on a game-winning shot by Shabazz Napier.

The Gators blew out to a 16-4 lead midway into the first half as their defense smothered UConn.

However, after a fast-break attempt by Florida failed, the Huskies finally woke up.

UConn went on an 11-0 run to close within 16-15, boosted by a pair of 3-pointers from DeAndre Daniels, who finished with a game-high 20 points.

The Huskies took their first lead 21-20 on a free throw by Niels Giffey. The lead then changed hands two more times before UConn capped a 21-6 run to go into the locker room at halftime leading 25-22.

The 22 points were the fewest scored in the first half by the Gators all season. Florida made just 8 of 23 shots (34.8 percent) in the first half and was 1-for-7 from 3-point range, the only make coming on Michael Frazier II's 3 to open the game.

The Gators finished 1-for-10 from 3-point land and got little offense other than from the senior duo of Patric Young (19 points, five rebounds) and Casey Prather (15 points, six rebounds). Senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin, the SEC Player of the Year, struggled throughout in a 2-for-9 shooting performance. Wilbekin finished with four points and three turnovers.

Meanwhile, despite holding UConn star Shabazz Napier scoreless for the game's first 16 minutes, the Huskies led thanks to hitting 4 of 7 from beyond the arc.

Florida became the fourth team to enter the Final Four since the NCAA Tournament began seeding teams in 1979 with a 30-game win streak. Like the others -- Indiana State in 1979, UNLV in 1991 and Duke in 1999 -- Florida failed to claim the national title.

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