W. BASKETBALL: Gators fall to FSU in season opener

The Florida-Florida State rivalry had one streak end on Saturday with the Gator football team coming out on top. However, women's basketball provided yet another streak ender Monday night as the Seminoles defeated UF, 72-62, for the first time since 1991 in a game played at the O'Connell Center.

It was the season opener for Florida, which fell behind by as many as 16 points in the first half before a tremendous defensive effort in the final five minutes of the half closed the gap. Florida let the Seminoles take a huge lead in the first 10 minutes of the second half, too, and there just weren't enough minutes on the clock for Florida to come back all the way.

Junior guard Danielle Santos led the Gators with 16 points and two steals in 28 minutes. It was her defensive intensity that got the Gators jump started after Florida State had cruised to a 21-point advantage in the second half. Santos' never give up attitude allowed the Gators to close the gap significantly, but the late surge just wasn't enough.

"We are never going to give up on a game no matter how late it is and I knew my team would fight hard all the way till the buzzer went off," Santos said. "I felt like we were executing, but the shots weren't falling tonight."

For Florida Coach Carolyn Peck, whose team shot a dismal 30 percent in the first half, it seemed all phases of the game suffered when the shooting wasn't on but when the defensive intensity picked up, so did the offense.

"Our players didn't show any fear because when shots weren't falling, they kept taking them," Peck said. "We got to get back in it with our defense in a situation like that."

Returning senior Tashia Morehead struggled throughout the game and it was revealed after the game that she is recovering from a torn quad muscle. Her improved status earlier in the week allowed her to play, but it was evident that she wasn't 100 percent. Peck pointed to the box score which showed a mere five points and five assists in 17 minutes for Morehead as proof.

Florida State led for a majority of the game at one point even by 21 points. The Seminoles, who shot 54.5 % in the second half, were led by senior Linnea Liljestrand. The native of Sweden led the team with 20 points in 27 minutes, including an impressive 50 percent effort from the three-point line.

"We are just playing really good right now and this is the year that we are going to do what we set out to do," she the FSU senior.

Liljestrand, who was in elementary school the last time the Seminoles defeated the Gators in 1991, said it was the same year that she started playing basketball.

Next up for the Gators is the Junkanoo Jam as the team will travel to the Bahamas over Thanksgiving break. Peck said the loss to Florida State wouldn't put a damper on the imminent Caribbean trip.

"I'd rather take the momentum that I saw in the last 10 minutes today on the trip to the Bahamas instead of sitting back, folding up our tents and saying, 'oh hell we lost,'" Peck said.

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