CHICAGO – Florida bid for a berth in the championship game of the Preseason WNIT was a mega-second too late Thursday night in the Windy City.
Kayla Lewis’ tip-in came just a split-second after the horn sounded and DePaul escaped with a 74-73 semifinal victory at McGrath Arena to move into Sunday’s championship game at Purdue.
The Blue Demons’ 58-game home winning streak remained intact when officials were unable to view replays of the tip-in. McGrath Arena does not have courtside monitors.
DePaul star Keisha Hampton made one free throw with 1:21 and tied the game at 73. Florida didn’t help itself on the ensuing offensive possession and turned the ball over. The Blue Demons then had two offensive rebounds with its next chance and didn’t convert a field goal, but Hampton found her way to the line, where she made one of two and gave the hosts a 74-73 lead with six seconds remaining.
Florida’s Lanita Bartley dribbled the length of the court and was fouled within six feet of the basket. Unfortunately for the Gators, the officials didn’t rule that she was shooting when she was fouled and since that was just DePaul’s fifth foul of the half, Bartley wouldn’t get a chance at the free throw line with 0.6 on the clock. Jordan Jones’ toss from the baseline to Lewis was perfect, but the shot took just a hair too long and the bucket was waved off.
“I’m very, very proud of my team and how they responded to the adversity at the end of the game, how they battled and competed and put themselves in the position that they did to win the game,” Florida coach Amanda Butler said. “We’ll learn from this, get better and improve. We’ll take a lot of confidence from what we were almost able to complete tonight because I think DePaul is a very, very good team. DePaul is an NCAA Tournament team and I think we’re an NCAA Tournament team.”
Florida (2-1) was its own worst enemy to begin the second half, committing three quick turnovers, as DePaul went on a 8-2 run and take its first lead of the game. The Gators called a timeout, but racked up more miscues – seven within the first 4:31 of the second half. Jones gave the Gators some life with a 3-pointer from the left corner that tied the game at 50-all, but Maureen Mulchrone canned one for the hosts and UF trailed again by three.
The Gators refused to let down, and put together a 6-0 swing that gave them a 56-53 lead, as Azania Stewart, Brittany Shine and Jennifer George each tallied scores. Florida eventually moved the lead to seven points, 66-59, with 8:27 remaining.
DePaul then staged what proved to be a game-changing march, scoring eight straight points during the next minute and a half to take a 70-69 advantage with 5:13 on the clock.
Bartley hit a jumper to put the Gators back in the lead, before Felicia Chester hit one of two free throws and the game was tied for the fourth time.
Lewis calmed nailed a 3-pointer with 3:14 remaining that gave UF another lead, but a DePaul jumper and one free throw by Hampton with 1:21 on the clock set up the final game series.
Jones led four Gators in double-figures with 14 points, as she converted 4-of-9 three-pointers. Stewart was one rebound shy of her second consecutive double-double, adding 10 points and nine rebounds. Lewis tallied 10 points and seven rebounds, while Bartley added 10 points and a game-high six assists with a pair of steals for Florida, which shot 46.8 percent from the floor and held a 40-31 rebound advantage, but committed 24 turnovers.
Hamptons finished with a game-high 19 points, converting 8-of-10 from the free throw line, while Sam Quigley and Anna Martin both tallied 16 points for DePaul, which won its last 119 games at home by an average of 20.2 points.
The Gators return to Gainesville where they next play host to North Florida on Tuesday in the O’Connell Center. The game, part of a doubleheader with the Florida men’s team, will tip off at 4:30 p.m.
DEPAUL 74, FLORIDA 73
Game 3 / Thursday, Nov. 18, 2010 / McGrath Arena / Chicago, Ill.
FLORIDA (73): Ndidi Madu 2-4 0-0 4, Azania Stewart 4-6 2-2 10, Lanita Bartley 5-7 0-0 10, Kayla Lewis 4-13 1-1 10, Jordan Jones 5-11 0-0 14, Jaterra Bonds 2-4 0-0 6, Deana Allen 2-5 0-0 4, Brittany Shine 1-3 0-0 2, Deaundra Young 1-1 2-2 4, Lily Svete 1-5 0-0 3, Jennifer George 2-2 2-2 6. Totals 29-62 7-7 73.
Field-goal shooting: 29 of 62 for 46.8 percent. 3-point shooting: 8 of 23 (Jones 4-9, Bonds 2-2, Leis 1-3, Svete 1-5, Allen 0-2, Shine 0-2) for 34.8 percent. Free-throw shooting: 7 of 7 for 100 percent. Rebounds: 40 (Stewart 9, Lewis 7, Svete 5). Assists: 15 (Bartley 6, Shine 3). Blocked shots: 3 (Stewart 2, Madu 1). Steals: 8 (Madu 2, Bartley 2). Turnovers: 24 (Bartley 6, Shine 4). Total fouls (fouled out): 14 (none). Technicals: none.
DEPAUL (74): Taylor Pikes 1-1 0-0 2, Keisha Hampton 4-13 8-10 19, Felicia Chester 3-8 1-2 7, Sam Quigley 6-12 2-2 16, Anna Martin 8-13 0-0 16, China Threatt 1-4 0-0 3, Jennifer Juergens 0-0 0-0 0, Jasmine Penny 0-0 0-0 0, Maureen Mulchrone 0-0 0-0 0, Deanna Ortiz 1-1 1-2 3, Katherine Harry 4-11 0-0 8. Totals: 28-63 12-16 74.
Field-goal shooting: 28 of 63 for 44.4 percent. 3-point shooting: 6 of 13 (Hampton 3-5, Quigley 2-4, Threatt 1-2, Martin 0-2). Free-throw shooting: 12 of 16 for 75 percent. Rebounds: 31 (Chester 8, Harry 6). Assists: 19 (Chester 5, Pikes 4, Hampton 4). Blocked shots: 2 (Hampton 1, Martin 1). Steals: 11 (Martin 3, Hampton 2, Quigley 2). Turnovers: 17 (Hampton 3, Chester 3, Quigley 3, Martin 3). Total fouls (fouled out): 10 (none). Technicals: none.
Halftime: Florida 45, DePaul 40. Points in the paint: Florida 30, DePaul 32. Points off turnovers: Florida 23, DePaul 17. Second-chance points: Florida 15, DePaul 5. Fast-break points: Florida 2, DePaul 10. Bench points: Florida 25, DePaul 14. Score tied: 5 times. Lead changed: 5 times. Largest lead: Florida by 8 (10-2) at 17:55 of first half; DePaul by 3 (50-47) at 16:08 of second half. Attendance: 2,520. Officials: Dock Sisk, Kathy Lynch, Michael McConnell. Records: Florida 2-1, DePaul 3-0. Next games: North Florida at Florida, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 4:30 p.m.; DePaul at Purdue, Sunday, Nov. 21, at 2 p.m. in WNIT Championship Game.