No. 5/6 Tennessee used a potent three-point attack and placed four players in double-figure scoring to snap Florida’s nine-game home winning streak with an 83-40 win on Thursday in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
Freshman guard Brittany Shine who reached the 100-point plateau for her collegiate career in the game led the Gators (12-6, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) for the fourth time this season with seven points in 21 minutes of play.
The Gators shot 21.4 percent (15-of-70) from the floor for the game, marking the third-lowest shooting percentage in a single game in school history. Tennessee shot 47.8 percent (32-of-67) from the field, connecting on nine three-pointers and winning the rebound-battle 57-37. It marked just the third time this season that Florida has been out-rebounded.
“We are very disappointed, obviously, of the outcome, but (also) just the way the whole game went,” Florida head coach Amanda Butler said. “Tennessee is tremendous, there isn’t any question. I think they are great. They deserve their ranking; they are certainly the best team in the league. I knew we were going to have to play well to beat them, but we are just really disappointed with our toughness. We have to give Tennessee credit for setting the tone right from the beginning offensively. Defensively, the tempo, the rebounding battle–they just really took all of that away from us right from the tip. We never adjusted or responded with the toughness that I know that this team possesses.”
Junior guard Deana Allen scored six points and brought down a career-high and team-high eight rebounds, while freshman guard Jaterra Bonds added six points. Junior guard Lanita Bartley chipped in five points.
The Lady Vols raced out to an early 11-3 lead, holding the Gators to just 1-of-6 shooting from the field to open the game. After an Allen basket stopped the Florida scoring drought, Bjorklund drained a three-pointer from the left wing at the 16:02 mark of the opening period, to give her eight points in the first four-plus minutes of the game and extend Tennessee’s edge to 14-5. The Lady Vols continued their three-point shooting barrage, widening their margin to 13, 22-9, with 12:31 left in the half. Tennessee held Florida without a basket for nearly nine minutes late in the opening period to widen its margin to 22 points, 34-12, before a Shine three-pointer at the 2:42 mark ended the drought.
Tennessee took a 47-15 edge into the locker room at intermission, using seven three pointers to highlight its offensive performance. The Gators shot 20.0 percent (6-of-30) from the floor in the opening period, while the Lady Vols connected on 47.5 percent (19-of-40) of its shots. Tennessee held a 30-16 advantage on the boards at intermission, and a 14-2 edge in points-in-the-paint.
The Lady Vols came out of the locker room in the second half to quickly build up to a 39-point advantage at 57-18 with 15:58 remaining in the game. Tennessee would never trail by fewer than 30 points for the remainder of the game, and led by as many as 45 points, 83-38, with 1:19 left on the clock.
Tennessee (16-2, 4-0 SEC) was led by Bjorklund’s game-high 16 points, while junior forward Shekinna Stricklen poured in a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds as one of four Lady Vol players to score in double-figures.
Florida returns to action on Sunday, when it travels to Athens, Ga., to take on Georgia. Tip-off is slated for 2 p.m. ET and the game will be carried live on the SEC Network and WBXY 99.5 FM in Gainesville.
· Florida drops to 12-6 overall and 2-2 in Southeastern Conference play, while No. 5/6 Tennessee improves 16-2 overall and 4-0 in league action.
· The Gators used the starting lineup of Lanita Bartley, Jaterra Bonds, Jennifer George, Jordan Jones and Ndidi Madu for the second time this season and the second consecutive game. Florida is now 1-1 with the current starting lineup.
· UF saw its nine-game home winning streak, dating back to the 2009-10 season, come to a close.
· The Gators faced their largest halftime deficit of the season at 32 points. It marked the fifth time this season that Florida has trailed at the half.
· Florida lost the rebound battle for just the third time this season and the Gators drop to 0-3 when losing the rebounding battle.
· Freshman guard Brittany Shine finished with a team-high seven points in the game and eclipsed the 100-point plateau for her collegiate career. She led the Gators for the sixth time this season.
· Junior guard Deana Allen brought down a career-high eight rebounds, besting her previous personal-record of six rebounds against Providence on Dec. 4. She also played a career-high and team-high 30 minutes.