Redshirt-freshman Carlie Needles (Highlands Ranch, Col.) scored a career-high 27 points all coming off a program-record nine three-pointers and Florida earned an impressive 74-44 win against North Florida at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Monday night.
With 1:24 to play in the contest, Needles hit her ninth and final shot from long distance and finished 9-of-17 on the night, making her just the fifth player in Southeastern Conference women’s basketball history to make nine three-point baskets in a single game and tying her for the second-most threes in a game by an SEC women’s basketball player.
Needles broke a 20-year Florida Gator record held by Bridget Pettis, who drained eight three-pointers versus Georgia on Jan. 20, 1993.
“It’s pretty cool. It’s not about the individual record; it’s about what we do as a team” said Needles about breaking the program record. “My teammates really looked for me and so without them, I wouldn’t have shot the ball well. I noticed they had a couple good screens, and they really found me well. It wasn’t just me.”
“Carlie had a pretty good night, but I thought the thing that was fantastic about that was not that she shot the ball – we all know she’s capable of that – but that her teammates screened for her, found her and she did a great job of finding her shots,” UF head coach Amanda Butler said. “Every shot she took was a good shot. There was nothing that was lucky or freakish about it.”
Needles outscored North Florida (0-4) by herself through the first 20 minutes and had seven three-point field goals in the first half, which were as many field goals as the entire North Florida team combined through that stage of the game.
Jaterra Bonds (Gainesville, Fla.) and Lily Svete (Granger, Ind.) joined in on the three-point shooting spree for the Gators as well as they each added a long range jumper of their own and help Florida sink 11 from long range, the most three-pointers since hitting 11 at Ole Miss on Jan. 31, 2010.
The game started with a slow pace on both sides with the Gators and Ospreys committing a combined seven turnovers in the first 4:08. The teams reached the first media timeout at the 15:52 mark with North Florida leading 5-2 and the Gators’ first points of the game coming on a Kayla Lewis (Decatur, Ga.) layup from Bonds.
The Gators the came out of a media timeout and exploded on a 19-0 run that turned the three-point deficit into a 21-5 lead with 8:30 remaining in the first half. Octavia Langston stopped the spree with a jumper, but Jennifer George (Fresno, Calif.) hit one free throw and started a 9-0 march that featured scoring by freshman Sydney Moss (Union, Ky.) and two more threes from Needles that ended with the Gators holding a 30-7 advantage with 6:47 to play in the first half and Florida never looked back.
Butler and the rest of the Gator coaching staff couldn’t help but smile from the bench at what Needles was doing from downtown in the first-half after she drained her seventh three-pointer of the night with 3:04 still remaining in the first half to put the Gators ahead, 45-18.
The half came to a close with the Gators leading 50-18 and Florida finishing 9-of-18 from three-point land and Needles shooting 7-of-9. Florida shot 59.4 percent (19-32) in the opening 20 minutes, with assists coming on 15 of the 19 field goals. North Florida hit just 29.2 percent (7-24) and committed 12 turnovers that Florida converted into 18 points.
Moss, Bonds, Lewis and freshman Christin Mercer (Douglasville, Ga.) each finished with eight points, while George and Lewis shared top rebounding honors with seven apiece, as the Gators held a 48-30 rebounding edge, with 17 boards coming on the offensive end.
Moss flirted with a triple-double again, also charting a game-high seven assists, while Mercer recorded collected six rebounds, three steals while hitting all three of her shot attempts.
The 50 first-half points for Florida were the most since scoring 53 in the first half of the Dec. 20, 2010 Gator Holiday Classic matchup versus Alabama State.
Needles also made contributions on the defensive end of the floor as she stepped up to take a charge with 15:19 remaining in the game and the Gators on top, 56-25.
With 13:00 left in the second-half January Miller (Orlando, Fla.) was the last Gator to make the score sheet as sank a free-throw making tonight the third time this season that every Gator who dress scored.
With the game well in hand after a fast break jumper from Bonds with 8:24 to play in the game and Florida leading 64-33, the Gators cooled off in the second-half.
Bonds kept the offense moving for the Gators to prevent any double-digit runs by the Ospreys as she hit a layup and a free throw for the old-fashioned three-point play with 5:48 left in the game.
Needles proved that her shooting hand remained hot through halftime and the majority of the second-half as she sank her eighth three-point basket of the game to give herself 24 points on the night with just 4:41 remaining in the game to put the Gators up 70-38.
With 1:24 to play in the contest, Needles hit her ninth and final shot from long distance to finish 9-of-11 on the night, making her just the fifth person in SEC women’s basketball history to make nine three-point baskets in a single game and ties her for the second-most threes in a game by an SEC women’s basketball player.
The largest lead of the night for the Gators was 34, which had Florida up 54-20 with 19:07 remaining in the game and came the same way that the first bucket of the game did for the Gators, a Lewis layup from Bonds.
Courtesy of UF Communications