South Carolina Edged by Florida, 59-56
Jan. 24, 2010
South Carolina battled down to the wire but dropped a 59-56 decision at Florida Sunday afternoon. The Gamecocks had a pair of shots at the game-winning basket inside the final 20 seconds but could not connect. Kelsey Bone put up game highs with 19 points and 11 rebounds for her sixth double-double of the season.
The Gamecocks started slowly and found themselves trailing by 14 points at 23-9 with 8:16 left in the first half. Head coach Dawn Staley called for the pressure defense, and the team responded with an impressive 15-4 run to head into the locker room tied 27-27.
Points came in a variety of ways during the surge, which was kicked off with a Kelsey Bone bucket from the left block. La'Keisha Sutton, who had been sitting on the bench with two fouls for much of the half, hit a free throw then buried a 3-pointer from the left wing to pull South Carolina within five points. Bone made a power move and drew a foul to convert a traditional three-point play, and Charenee Stephens did the same as she was fouled putting back an offensive rebound to put the Gamecocks on top 24-23 with 4:35 left in the half. For Florida, Jennifer Mossor ended the nearly five-minute drought with a transition layup, and Jennifer George hit a pair of free throws to push the margin to 27-24 with three minutes to go. Sutton and Bone scored the half's final three points.
Neither team could wrest control early in the second half, especially with the myriad of fouls from South Carolina early in the period. The Gamecocks took a 36-31 lead four minutes in behind a 3-pointer from Nainima and a drive from Sutton. The Gators put together a 7-0 spurt that the Gamecocks rallied past with 3-pointers from Sutton and Nainima, the last of which put South Carolina on top 44-43.
The Gators got ahead again inched ahead only to see the Gamecocks answer to go up by a point. A Lonnika Thompson 3-pointer pushed Florida in front by four points, its largest lead of the half, and a Azania Stewart free throw made it a five-point game with just under five minutes remaining.
With the Gators struggling from the free throw line, the lead hovered around four points until Bone's traditional three-point play brought the Gamecocks within 55-54 with 90 seconds left. Another move on the block from Bone 15 seconds later put the Gamecocks up 56-55.
Florida took a timeout to set up its offense, which the Gamecocks thwarted enough to force the Gators to call another timeout. With the Gamecock defense pushing the Gators out high and the shot clock winding down, Trumae Lucas stepped up with a jumper from the left elbow under pressure to put her team up 57-56 with 18 seconds left.
The Gamecocks drew up their final play of the game with Sutton triggering the inbounds pass to Bone on the right side. Bone kicked it immediately back to Sutton who drove to the basket. George blocked the Gamecock sophomore's shot, but the rebound fell to Bone. With the clock inside five seconds, the freshman put up a shot under heavy duress, but could not connect for the game winner.
Sutton and Nainima joined Bone in double figures as they scored 15 and 12 points, respectively. The Gamecocks shot just 33.3 percent from the field but out-rebounded the Gators 43-36.
South Carolina returns home for its next two SEC games, beginning with a 7 p.m. tipoff against Mississippi on Thu., Jan. 28.