Florida women earn victory over Tennessee
In front of the second-largest crowd at the O'Connell Center to watch a women's basketball game (8,060), Florida defeated storied Tennessee 66-57 Sunday afternoon.
Senior guard Sha Brooks scored a game-high 29 points to lead the Gators to their seventh consecutve SEC victory - a school record.
Florida (22-2, 8-1 SEC), which won just two conference games two years ago, remained atop first place with Auburn in the SEC. It was only the third time in school history the Gators have defeated the Vols, and the seven straight conference wins is a school record for UF.
“It was a fantastic win,’’ second-year Florida coach Amanda Butler said. “In the SEC, the most important thing is to continue to get SEC wins. I said before the game we don’t get a bonus point if we beat Tennessee, and that’s the truth, but at the same time with a program like that, that we have so much respect for what they have done, what they will continue to do and the way Pat (Tennessee coach Summitt) does it, it’s a huge confidence-builder for our team. And it is a great day for our program, no question.’’
No. 12 Tennessee (17-6, 6-3) led 29-27 at halftime after leading by as many as seven in the first half. a Brooks, the catalyst for the Gators, shot just 3-of-10 from the field in the first half.
“I couldn’t take it to the basket, I missed a lot of layups, I got fouled and went to the line and I missed a lot of free-throws,’’ Brooks said. “But I tried not to let my confidence get down.’’
Apparently she didn’t.
Trailing 50-43 with 7:29 remaining in the game, Brooks took over. The Tennessee native scored 12 of her game-high 29 points consecutively in a 2:47 span to give the Gators a 55-52 lead with just over three minutes remaining in the game.
"I basically took what the defense gave me,'' she said. "Marshae set some good screens and I was open on the free throw line. A few of them went in. It was a lot of teamwork. I can't just take it all by myself because when I was missing layups somebody else came in and picked up some slack.''