No. 6 Kentucky women stop Florida 76-69
(AP Photo/James Crisp)
By GARY GRAVES
AP Sports Writer
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Florida is still waiting to break through against Kentucky.
However, the Gators have to wait until next season in Gainesville for their shot after losing 76-69 to the No. 6 Gators on Thursday night.
Kentucky beat Florida for the sixth straight time, including the fifth in a row by seven points or fewer.
"I'm kind of tired of it to be honest with you," Florida coach Amanda Butler said of the close finishes. "I don't really enjoy it that much because we have been on the losing end. Great matchups, you know (Kentucky coach) Matthew (Mitchell) does a fantastic job and it always does seem to be a one-possession ball game that you look back and go `if this, than this' or one bounce here.
"It is a great indication of how good our league is, how good they are. And how good we are, and that we have a lot to look forward to."
Jaterra Bonds scored a game-high 21 points, January Miller added 17 and Jennifer George 14 for the Gators (11-4, 0-1) who had their six-game winning streak stopped.
However, Florida fought Kentucky the whole way and was within 72-68 with 21 seconds remaining. But the Wildcats closed the game by making four of six free throws to seal it.
As the Gators prepare for Sunday's game against LSU, they can feel good about outrebounding Kentucky 40-36 on its home floor and making the Wildcats work long and hard for the victory.
"I think it was a great game today, great representation of how good our league is," Butler said. "We have a lot to look forward to in this SEC season. We got beat by a very good team, no question about it. We made some plays down the stretch, but got off to a slow start and that was unfortunate. I love how we took care of the ball in the second half, I love how we fought.
"But we are not satisfied by any means. We just have to regroup, go back home, and get ready for a really good LSU team."
A'dia Mathies scored 20 points and Jennifer O'Neill 17 for Kentucky (13-1, 1-0).
Better shooting made the difference for the Wildcats, who were 27 of 62 (44 percent). Florida shot just 37 percent (21 of 57).
"I felt like sometimes we got lazy on defense and let them catch inside easily," George said. "I think that they are very good in the post and that hurt us. We could have boxed out a little more. They had a lot of easy offensive rebounds and put backs that we can learn from."
Thursday's game typified recent close meetings between the schools, the past four won by Kentucky by a total of 12 points.
In last season's SEC quarterfinal, the Wildcats won 71-67 with Mathies scoring a game-high 24 while George led Florida with 18.
Both players factored into this matchup that only featured two lead changes.
Florida trailed 23-12 at one point but didn't wilt. Miller's consecutive transition layups and five straight points by Bonds got the Gators within 23-21 and set the stage for their best stretch and only lead of the half.
A 14-4 run including eight straight points over 2:05 put Florida ahead 35-34 as George had six points in the spurt with Miller and Kayla Lewis adding baskets and Bonds two free throws.
Kentucky quickly grabbed it back on Goss' jumper and Evans' second 3-pointer for a 39-35 lead at the break. While the Wildcats' 48 percent shooting provided an edge, the Gators outrebounded them 19-14 including 6-3 offensively.
The second half was much the same as Kentucky never led by more than eight and Florida got within one at 48-47 on Lewis' two free throws.
Updated January 3, 2013