Lady Gator Basketball ended it's three game skid against the South Carolina Gamecocks on Sunday. Since being ranked No. 9 in the AP Poll, the Lady Gators dropped games to Vanderbilt, LSU, and then Arkansas at home.
On this Senior Day it was fitting that Seniors Sha Brooks and Mashae Dotson had a major impact on the outcome of the game.
Brooks scored a game-high 24 point against the Gamecocks but, she also had five three-pointers and was a perfect 5-5 from the free-throw line. She also had eight assists and six rebounds.
Fellow Senior Marshae Dotson contributed 18 points and blocked two shots and added five rebounds. Another Senior Aneika Henry had five rebounds and three assists.
It was a special day for us,” Florida head coach Amanda Butler said. “It was an opportunity to honor four young ladies who have given so much to their university. The fact that we were able to do that off the heels of another big SEC victory was special.
South Carolina is one of the scrappiest, most competitive teams in the league. Their fight and spirit is very, very strong and we knew that we were going to have to come ready. We knew that if we brought Florida basketball fight and fire, that we were going to be in good shape.”
Coach Butler shook up the starting line-up and started true freshman Trumae Lucas. Because of her previous play off the bench it became evident that it was going to be hard to keep this young lady off the court.
She can make plays and obviously make things happen for her teammates. Her play had been productive in the midst of a three game losing streak.
In this game though the whole Florida team put it all together and shot almost 51% from the floor and almost 86% from the free-throw line. They also ended up winning the battle in rebounds with a 38-34 edge and contributed 10 three-pointers. This was definitely their best all around game as they lead they entire game against the Gamecocks.
Dawn Staley's bunch though are a scrappy group and they twice cut into the Gators lead. But, each time the Gators responded with runs of their own.
South Carolina was led by freshman Lakeisha Sutton who had a team high 17 points.
Sutton is definitely the future of Gamecock Basketball. When the ball was in her hands she made plays everytime. Senior forward CJ Pace brought down a game-high seven rebounds.
“I thought our team played well,” Staley said. “I thought we won the hustle plays and the areas in which we had to win in order to put ourselves in a position to win. We got beat by a good basketball team that did what they did well, especially Dotson, and Brooks. They just had their way with us today.”
The Gators took a four point lead into the half. They shot an impressive 47.8 percentage from the floor.
The Gators also played great defense holding the Gamecocks to just 26.3 percent and no basket for the first 3:48 minutes.
“One of the reasons why this team has been so successful this season is because they are a confident bunch,” Butler said. “I think that we knew that with the work we have put in the past two days in practice, what the result was going to be. We wanted to make sure that we played with enough confidence, aggressiveness and a little bit of that swagger.”
The Lady Gators improve to 23-5 and 9-4 in the Southeastern Conference.
Florida gets back to the floor on Sunday, March 1 as they travel to Athens, Georgia to play the Bulldogs. This is the last game of the regular season for both teams.
Notes: The Gators reach their 300th victory in program history. The Gators need one more victory to match the programs' record of 24. With Sha Brooks five three-pointers she is now at 203 three-pointers for her career. She becomes only the third player in program history to reach 200 three-pointers.