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Gators win with another facet

They oust Holy Cross 84-52 behind their post players, not guards.

Florida made a name for itself with the guard play of Brandi McCain and Tombi Bell.

Friday night, it was the Gators' post players who led the way in UF's 84-52 victory against Holy Cross in the first round of the tournament.

"In the shootaround today, my post coach, Joi Williams, made a comment that we're not just a guard-oriented team," center Vanessa Hayden said. "We have potential in the post, too. We just had to go out and show that tonight."

Hayden led the Gators with 17 points, and forward Naomi Mobley recorded a double double with 16 points and 20 rebounds. Forward Monique Cardenas had 12 points and four rebounds.

McCain and Bell combined for 20 points, with McCain scoring 14.

"Our team has always been known for being a team that when somebody struggles, there is somebody there to pick it up," Florida coach Carol Ross said. "Tonight was a good example of that. You are not going to always have five players that have career nights."

Ross said she did not think anyone struggled.

Florida took an 11-3 lead to start the game and was up 39-19 at halftime

Because of the early lead, Ross was able to substitute during the second half. McCain and Bell, who usually play the entire 40 minutes, were able to rest during the later minutes.

Reserves Misty Knight, Lindsey DeLoach and Ash'lea Moore played the final minutes.

Florida's inside play surprised the Crusaders.

"The early reports we got about Florida being guard-oriented were exaggerated," coach Bill Gibbons said. "The more I watched film, I knew that they had a very good inside game. They showed that tonight."

Mobley said she was motivated by the way she played during the SEC tournament, where the Gators lost in the second round.

The Gators won their first NCAA game since 1998.

"The name of the game is survive and advance, and we survived the first round," Ross said. "Holy Cross was a team that really got our attention. We had a lot of respect for their ability to play as a team on the offensive side of the ball."

Katie O'Keefe was the only Holy Cross player in double figures, scoring 13 points.

The Gators face No. 6 seed Washington at 8:30 p.m. Sunday at the O'Connell Center.

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