STOCKTON, Calif. – The University of Florida’s Jennifer George powered up her second consecutive double-double and fourth of the year but it wasn’t enough as the Gator lost at the University of the Pacific, 78-73, Friday evening at the Alex G. Spanos Center.
Florida actually made one more field goal than the hosts, but the Tigers connected on 11-of-16 three-pointers and corralled 20 offensive rebounds that they turned into 22 second-chance points to win their fourth consecutive game.
“Pacific just out-played us,” UF head coach Amanda Butler said. “You have to give them credit for the outcome in every way. We played really soft in the first half and that credit goes to Pacific. We did not come out ready to play, which is obviously on me. They had some individuals who really stepped up and make plays. We didn’t step up and defend the three-point line at all and you can’t do that on someone else’s home court.”
George finished the game with 14 points and 14 rebounds, while Azania Stewart pulled down 10 rebounds to help Florida out-rebound Pacific, 52-35. Stewart also blocked a career-high six shots for the Gators, who turned the ball over 22 times and resulted in 25 Tiger points.
Jaterra Bonds finished with 13 points and four assists, while Lanita Bartley added 11 points with four assists and four steals and Jordan Jones tallied 10 points with three steals.
The Gators (7-3) began the second half on a 7-3 run and cut their eight-point halftime deficit to four points, 43-39. After the teams traded scores Pacific knocked down its seventh three-pointer of the game and another within the next two minutes as part of a 9-2 spurt and reclaimed a double-digit lead, 54-43, with 12:08 remaining.
Jordan Jones ended the run with a three-pointer for the Gators, who traded buckets for the next minute, with Jaterra Bonds hitting an eight-foot pull-up jumper in the paint. Pacific, however, answered with a score and kept its 10-point lead, 58-48, with 11:03 to go in the game.
Ndidi Madu then knocked down a 16-footer and started a 9-0 run that began a 13-3 overall spurt that tied the game at 61 with 4:58 remaining.
Both teams scored on their next offensive trips and Pacific then nailed its 10th three-pointer of the game and took a three-point lead with 4:15 on the clock.
Azania Stewart skied for an offensive rebound and put back a miss and had Florida within one, 66-65, with 3:34 to go, but Pacific regrouped with the next five points, including four dropping as the shot clock expired
Florida tried one last rally, scoring the next three points, with Bonds hitting one free throw and Madu collecting the miss on her second attempt and putting it back in with 23.6 seconds remaining and brought the Gators within three points, 71-68.
Kendall Rodriguez then iced the game by hitting four consecutive free throws and finishing the game with 19 points and six of Pacific’s 15 steals. Erica McKenzie was the star of the game, as she converted 7-of-8 three-pointers and ended with a game-high 23 points. Ashley Wakefield tallied a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Tigers, who shot 40.6 percent overall from the floor and 15-of-17 from the free throw line.
Florida trailed at halftime for the fourth time this season, taking a 40-32 deficit into the locker room.
After Pacific scored the first two buckets of the game, Florida staged an 8-3 run with scoring from Lanita Bartley, Jennifer George, Jordan Jones and Deana Allen and took an 8-7 lead with 15:49 to go in the half.
Florida’s lead was short-lived, as the Tigers countered with a 12-0 march over the next 3:20 and assumed a 19-8 lead that caused the Gators to call a timeout. George responded with an inside bucket out of the timeout, but Erica McKenzie fired up one of her four first-half three-pointers and gave Pacific a 22-10 lead with 10:56 on the clock.
Allen then scored the next four points, the second set coming after Azania Stewart blocked a shot, Jones corralled the defensive rebound and dished to Allen to complete the transition bucket. Jones was then the recipient of a long outlet from George, who collected a Tiger miss and capped a 6-0 stretch that initiated a 22-9 Gator run and put Florida ahead, 32-31.
Jones capped the stint with a three-pointer from the top of the key with 3:25 to go in the half, marking the sixth consecutive game she has hit one from deep.
Once again, Florida’s lead was short-lived, as the Gators went cold from the floor and wouldn’t score again during the period and Pacific rattled off the final nine points of the frame for the eight-point halftime advantage.
During the Gator run, hometown product Brittany Shine delighted the more than 100 fans that turned out to see her by scoring six consecutive points that dropped UF’s deficit from eight points to two, as she ran the floor hard and completed transition baskets twice.
Florida turned the ball over 15 times during those first 20 minutes and Pacific converted those into 16 points, while hitting 5-of-9 from beyond the arc. The Gators held the slight 23-22 rebounding edge, but allowed 12 on the offensive end and the Tigers capitalized with 12 second-chance points.
The Gators now take a 12-day break from competition and turn their attention to fall semester final exams before returning to the court to play host to the annual Gator Holiday Classic held Dec. 20-21. Florida meet Charleston Southern on the first day at 7 p.m. after Duquesne and Maine square off in the initial game of the tournament at 4:30 p.m. The teams with the same result play on Dec. 21, with the Gator game at 7 p.m. and the non-Gator game scheduled for 4:30 p.m.