Needles, Moss lead Florida past Troy

Florida used big scoring nights from a pair of freshmen along with the combination of crisp outside shooting and a strong post presence to defeat Troy, 87-62, at the O’Connell Center on Tuesday night.

Rookies Carlie Needles (Highlands Ranch, Col.) and Sydney Moss (Union, Ky.) each scored 18 points in a myriad of ways to combine for 36 points with the pair reaching double-figures in the first half alone as they scored a combined 21 points in the game’s first 20 minutes and helped UF to a 44-36 lead at the break.

Preseason Naismith Player of the Year Candidate Jennifer George (Fresno, Calif.) posted her first double-double of the season and the 20th of her career, as she contributed 14 points and a season-high 12 rebounds, while junior transfer Vicky McIntyre (Omaha, Neb.) also recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, her first double-double as a Gator and the third one of her career.

Redshirt-junior Lily Svete (Granger, Ind.) scored a career-high 14 points and led the Gators with four of the team’s seven three-point baskets, as Florida drilled 7-of-11 from long range, as well as 52.5 percent (31-59) overall from the floor en route to its highest scoring output of the season.

“I thought it was great balance,” UF head coach Amanda Butler said. “We’ve got a lot of people that can be threatening. I thought offensively we did a really good job of working well together, but everyone individually took their shots at the right time. I thought we had great teamwork and great shot selection. For the most part we knocked most of them down, but that was because they were good shots.”

After Troy opened the second half with a three-point bucket and cut UF’s lead to five, 44-39, the Gators responded with a quick 9-0 run that became an 18-4 spurt, as Florida got stronger during the opening minutes of the second half and held a 64-43 lead with 10:41 remaining.

Florida, which outscored its visitors 43-26 in the second half, also took advantage of its size against Troy (1-6) and outscored the Trojans, 40-20, in the paint.

With a fast-paced offense from the start, the Gators jumped out to a 14-6 lead with a pair of three-point baskets, a couple of easy buckets from McIntyre and six points from Moss, who finished with a game-high five assists.

After trading a couple of baskets from beyond the arc, the Gators (6-3) used their size to their advantage as McIntyre and Moss combined for 11 of Florida’s first 17 points with nine of those points coming from inside the paint.

With the Gators leading 18-14 and 9:44 remaining in the first half, Svete made back-to-back three-pointers and McIntyre put in another shot down low and give Florida a nine-point advantage.

Florida made their three-point attempts count in the first half by making 5-of-7 from behind the arc and nearly 52 percent from the field.

George was quiet early on, but after making a layup with 6:23 until the half, the Gators’ lone senior reeled off a total of seven points and pulled down five rebounds to put Florida out front 44-36 heading into the break.

Florida’s four-player bench made its presence felt early on by accounting for 23 of 44 first-half points and finished with 45 points.

The Gators kept fighting on every play against a Troy team that continuously made five-person substitutions in an effort to keep up with Florida’s up-tempo offensive attack.

Florida withstood a three-point barrage from the Trojans, who attempted 18 three-point field goals in the first half and 34 overall with the Gator defense allowing Troy to connect on nine for the game.

The Gators, who extended their home winning streak to 10, return to action on Friday when they play host to Pacific (7-0) in the O’Connell Center beginning at 7 p.m.

Courtesy of UF Communications