Senior Jennifer George scored a season-high 20 points but it wasn’t enough as the Gators faltered in their first road tip of the season, falling 98-67 at Florida State at the Donald L. Tucker Center on Thursday night.
The Gators (2-1) were in control of the first 12 minutes of the game before Florida State ripped off a 28-2 run and the Gators would never recover.
“They did a great job of calling a timeout and making adjustments when we made a run and took the lead,” UF head coach Amanda Butler said. “Then they just outplayed us the rest of the ballgame. We didn’t do a good job coming out of timeouts of making adjustments. We did a horrible job of handling their zone which they played the entire game and I have to take the blame for that. We have to be ready to handle their zone pressure. You have to give them credit. They played like the team that they are, full of seniors with a couple of juniors. And we looked like all freshmen, unfortunately, with no upperclassmen. This is something we have to learn from, we were very exposed. When things were going our way we looked like Florida Basketball. When things didn’t go our way we didn’t handle the adversity at all.”
It was George’s fifth 20-point performance of her career, as she hit 9-of-15 from the floor and 2-of-5 from the free throw line. Florida’s lone senior was joined in double-figure scoring by Jaterra Bonds, who recorded 13 points and six assists. Sophomore Kayla Lewis added 10 points and seven rebounds for the Gators, who shot 35.6 percent (26-73) from the floor and committed 21 turnovers that Florida State converted into 33 points.
Four Seminoles (2-0) tallied a double-figure scoring effort, paced by Leonor Rodriguez’s 21 points. Natasha Howard added 18 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, pacing FSU’s effort on the boards where the hosts held a 46-36 advantage.
The teams traded buckets in the first seven minutes of the game, as FSU took a 10-7 lead. The Gators countered with a 7-0 spurt and took a 15-10 lead with 12:08 remaining in the first half, as George used a power move inside for the first bucket, Bonds followed by converted three consecutive free throws after begin fouled from beyond the arc and George capped the march with a three-point play.
The teams again exchanged scores before Sydney Moss nailed a three-pointer and Kayla Lewis completed a three-point play and gave the Gators a 23-14 lead with 10:16 on the clock.
FSU chipped away with the next five points before George scored again inside as part of a back-and-forth scoring trend.
With Florida holding a 27-21 lead with 8:15 remaining in the period, Florida State called a timeout and went on a devastating 28-2 run to end the half and take a 49-29 halftime advantage.
During the game-changing run, the Seminoles hit 12-of-17 shots from the field and outrebounded the Gators 12-2. George scored Florida’s lone basket, breaking up a 21-0 run with a tough inside shot, as the Gators turned the ball over six times during the span.
“We have to play really good teams on their home floor because that’s going to be a common thing for us this year,” Butler said. “Again, Florida State played great. Defensively, we did a horrible job defensively. When we did play good defense, we didn’t rebound and that was something in our preparation that we really, really harped on because we knew they were a really effective rebounding unit. We learned a hard lesion tonight.
“We’re not going to use anything as an excuse because I think we’ve got good ball players,” Butler said when asked if her team’s youth made a difference in the game. “Florida State made the experience gap very important. We played like a very scattered and inexperience team and they did a great job of looking primarily like a unit of seniors. That’s no excuse for the way we played. I’m really disappointed with our defensive effort. Defense and rebounding, I don’t care how many years you’ve been playing or who you’re playing against, you have to show up with a whole lot more toughness and awareness than we did.”
The Gators return to action on Monday when they play host to North Florida in the O’Connell Center beginning at 7 p.m. The first 250 students in attendance will receive a free dri-fit “All In” t-shirt, while it’s a Rowdy Reptiles Doubles Points Night and those students can check in at gate 2 and earn 8 points.
Courtesy of UF Communications