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NCAA women's tourney: Florida tops Ohio State, 70-65 (3-18-12) PDF Print E-mail
Written by JACK CARLE Sentinel Sports Editor   
Sunday, 18 March 2012 18:43
Florida's Azania Stewart (13) retrieves a rebound over Ohio State's Samantha Prahalis (21). (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
Florida’s double-digit lead had been cut to two points by Ohio State with just over a minute left in a first-round NCAA tournament game Sunday at the Stroh Center.
The Gators didn’t panic and Jaterra Bonds made 3-of-4 free throws in the final 12 seconds to help seal Florida’s 70-65 victory over Ohio State. The Gators, now 20-12 overall, face Baylor, 35-0, on Tuesday at 7 p.m. with the winner advancing to the Sweet 16. Baylor advanced with an 81-40 win over UC Santa Barbara.
Florida held a 10-point lead, 59-49, with 7:22 remaining. Then missed shots and turnovers helped Ohio State get back into the game. PHOTO GALLERY
Florida had three straight turnovers with the third leading to a layup by OSU’s Tayler Hill, cutting the Gators’ lead to 65-63 with 1:01 left. Florida then called a time out.
“The turnovers weren’t because of anything they had done defensively to us. We just didn’t do a good job of making decisions with the ball,” Florida head coach Amanda Butler said. “We just wanted to be calm, get our bearings. ‘Let’s not freak out. We got a lead. We’re in good position.’
“At the end of the huddle after giving all those instructions, I told all of them: ‘Look at me, we’re going to win y’ all, we’ve got this,’ Butler continued. “Their looks back were very confident and at moment I did have a little bit of a sigh of relief, just because of the way they looked.”
After the time out, the Gators went back inside to Jennifer George and she hit a short left-handed hook with 45 seconds left to push her team up 67-63.
After an OSU miss, Florida won the scramble for the loose ball and Jordan Jones was fouled.
Jones missed a free throw with 17.8 seconds left, but teammate Azania Stewart grabbed the rebound.
Bonds then made both ends of a 1-and-1 to go up 69-63. OSU’s Amber Stokes banked in a shot with 6.7 seconds left, making it 69-65.
Bonds sealed the win with two free throws with 5.3 seconds left.
“The bottom line is that we were tough,” Jones said. “It didn’t matter how close they got, we knew we had to answer, and a different person stepped up each time.
“We’ve been there before … 10 of our 12 losses were by six points or less,” Jones added. “Looking up and seeing a close score isn’t going to faze us.”
Florida never trailed, jumping out to a 9-0 lead in the first two minutes of the game. The Gators went on to take a 39-31 lead at the half. Florida was helped in the first half by seven 3-pointers, a 24-18 rebounding edge, including 11 at the offensive end, and nine OSU turnovers.
“It started with my turnover at the beginning of the game. We had too many unforced turnovers,” said Hill, who was the game’s leading scorer with 23 points.
Defensively, Florida did a good job containing Samantha Prahalis, the Big Ten player of the year. She finished with nine points, 11 below her average, and was held scoreless in the second half.
“Our team takes pride in that, and that’s a big part of their personality is what happened on the defensive end,” Butler said.
“She’s the kind of player that needs a rhythm ... and I don’t think she ever got comfortable with it today,” said OSU head coach Jim Foster. “She was just in a little bit of a hurry and when those first couple (of shots) don’t drop, you could see her starting to press a little bit.”
George led the Gators with 16 points, although the Buckeyes make her work as she was 6-of-17 from the field.
“She’s been the most consistent factor in our halfcourt offense all year, so we wanted the ball in her hands,” Butler said about going to George in the final minute.
Foster had not been happier earlier in the week that the Buckeyes were the No. 8 seed in the region.
When asked on Sunday if he felt ‘a little gypped be being here in this situation and playing a first round game like that’ Foster answered “No.”
NOTES: One of the officials for the game was Denise Kantner, a former NBA official, who is now the supervisor of officials for the WNBA ... Florida scored 16 second-change points, 16 points off 13 Ohio State turnovers, and 19 points for its bench ... The attendance was announced at 4,195, short of the listed capacity of 4,347.
Last Updated on Monday, 19 March 2012 11:43

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