Behind a game-high 28 points from Jordan Jones, the Florida women’s basketball team picked up its first road victory by beating La Salle 85-74 on Friday during the Courtyard LaGuardia Turkey Classic in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The 28 points were not only a season high for Jones, but also a Florida career high for the fifth-year senior guard. Jones eclipsed Friday’s total once before, scoring 31 points as a freshman at South Carolina.
After struggling to find consistent shooting for much of a four-game homestand to open the season, the 4-1 Gators were able to find their shooting stroke on the road against La Salle. The Gators connected on four of six three-point attempts in the first half, allowing them to open an early 14-point lead on the Explorers.
“We had some really good individual offensive performances,” UF coach Amanda Butler told the Gators Radio Network.
Senior guard Lanita Bartley had eight points for the Gators in the first five minutes of game action.
“(Bartley) is huge, her and Jaterra both,” Butler said. “She just gets in there and fights, and she wants to make plays for her team.”
The scoring of Jones and Bartley early began to open things up inside for 6-foot junior forward Jennifer George.
George took full advantage, connecting on her first six shots. She flirted with a double-double in the first half, finishing with 12 points and eight rebounds by halftime.
The inside-outside dual threat for the Gators had things clicking on offense, but La Salle was able to keep the game close, especially in the first half. The Explorers used a 10-0 run late in the first half to hang around.
At the half, the Gators led 41-38.
Early in the second half, the Gators continued to trade punches with the Explorers, with neither team being able to maintain a significant advantage. However, the Gators were able to create separation as the second half wore on, leading by double-figures for most of the way.
Despite the scoring, turnovers continued to be a problem for the Gators. After being hampered by turnovers against Hampton, the trend continued for much of the night against La Salle.
“We certainly should have won with more of a lead,” Butler said. “We have to take better care of the basketball.”
Defense was another area Butler was unhappy with, as the Gators often allowed La Salle to score more easily than the team would have liked.
Even on a night when their trademark defense was not at its best and turnovers were high, the Gators offense brought home the victory.
The Gators quickly get an opportunity to work on cutting down those turnovers and getting back to their more stifling defense. They face Charlotte tomorrow at 2 p.m. in the second and final day of the Turkey Classic that’s being played at the Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center on the campus of Long Island University.
“Charlotte is very good,” Butler said. “When you have such a quick turnaround, I think that is when imposing your style is crucial.”