GAINESVILLE — Angie Bjorklund was having an awful shooting night, but when it counted most, the Tennessee junior guard hit the biggest shot of the game.
Tied with Florida in the waning seconds, Bjorklund took a pass from Glory Johnson on a broken play, then drove the baseline for a reverse layup with 2.3 seconds remaining to give No. 4 Tennessee a 66-64 come-from-behind win over Florida on Thursday night in front of 4,103 at the O'Connell Center.
"Not even close," said Bjorklund, who shot 3-of-11, when asked if the winning shot was a designed play. "It was initially to get our posts the ball, simple cross screen and I don't know, it just broke down. I saw Glory get doubled and I just cut to the hoop and it was open."
Florida (9-8, 2-2 SEC) had a final opportunity. Gator forward Sharielle Smith threw the inbounds pass to Steffi Sorensen who lobbed it to senior guard Lonnika Thompson. But Thompson's open 3-pointer from the right side bounced off the rim.
"I think everybody in the gym thought we were going to be on ESPN by hitting that buzzer-beater and pulling the upset off," UF coach Amanda Butler said.
The Vols (15-1, 3-0) led 32-29 at halftime, but Florida's aggressive defense caused the Vols to commit a season-high 25 turnovers and allowed the Gators to take an eight-point lead with 7:33 left. After Tennessee rallied to pull within 64-62, Gator center Azania Stewart picked up her fourth foul with 5:27 left. With Stewart out, the Vols went on a 10-2 run to take a 64-62 lead. Thompson's jumper with 31.5 seconds remaining tied it, before Bjorklund's winner.
"Our basketball team didn't come here ready to play," Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said. "I don't know why. … We dodged a bullet against a very good team."
Butler said she was proud of the Gators, but wouldn't hear of talk about a moral victory.
"We lost a ball game that we should have won," she said. "We know we should have won."
Antonya English can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.