WOMEN'S HOOPS: Gators make Kentucky road kill

LEXINGTON, KY --- University of Florida senior Tamia Williams led a balanced scoring attack that helped the Gators defeat Kentucky 70-59 at Memorial Coliseum in front of 5,421. The victory, which snapped a five-game losing streak, was the 500th win in the 31-year history of the Florida program.

Florida (13-10, 4-6 SEC) used a 10-0 run in the late stages of the game to secure the victory after Kentucky had taken its first lead of the contest with 11:07 remaining. But UF's defense buckled down and held the Wildcats (14-10, 3-6 SEC) scoreless for the next eight minutes during its game-breaking run.

"We went back to our press and we wanted to set the tone early defensively," UF head coach Carolyn Peck said. "I think that helped our players' focus late in the game."

Williams finished with a game-high 19 points, while Tashia Morehead added 15 points with six rebounds and Bernice Mosby tallied 12 with a game-high nine rebounds in the win for Florida which shot 45 percent (27-60) from the floor.

The Gator defense also stepped up, holding UK to just 38.8 percent shooting, including a 27.6 mark in the second half, while forcing 17 turnovers.

"I cannot say enough about Bernice, Tamia and Tashia, but this really was a full team effort," Peck said. "All 10 players really did their job and were focused when they went into the game. Our bench (which scored 24 points) really stepped up tonight."

Kentucky opened the second half with a three-pointer, but Tashia Morehead answered with a give-and-go bucket and Tamia Williams followed with a trey as UF built its lead to eight, 48-40. The Wildcats then turned around with a 7-0 run and were within one with 14:28 remaining.

Morehead stopped the UK run with two free throws and then teams went back and forth for the next two minutes until Nastassia Alcius converted her second three-point play of the half to give UK its first lead of the game, 54-52, with 11:07 left.

Morehead came right back and put in an offensive rebound to tie the game, before Williams collected a steal and dished a no-look assist to Morehead under the basket who converted the layin that gave the Gators a 56-54 lead with under 10 minutes remaining. Both teams went cold from the floor for the next few minutes until Williams sank an acrobatic driving jumper with 5:27 on the clock to extend UF's advantage. UK missed on its next possession and the Gators made them pay as Sarah Lowe and Dalila Eshe worked a perfect screen and switch and the 6-foot-3 Eshe took advantage of a mismatch in the paint and sank a two-footer. UK missed another shot and Bernice Mosby answered with an athletic jumper in the paint that increased UF's lead to eight, 62-54, with 3:38 remaining.

Samantha Mahoney halted UF's 10-0 run with a three-point play, but Tamia Williams and Briana Phillips worked the give-and-go to perfection, as Williams sank the driving layin with 2:25 on the clock.

UF's rebounding continued to limit UK to just one shot on the offensive end and was forced to foul to stop the clock. Lowe coolly canned both ends of two one-and-ones in the final minute to secure the victory.

Florida began the game on a 10-2 run thanks to a pair of three-pointers by Tamia Williams and buckets from Tashia Morehead and Bernice Mosby. UF's defense also held Kentucky without a field goal for the first four minutes to open strong.

Florida continued to hit from the floor, while the Wildcats pounded the ball inside where the Gators began accumulating fouls and UK kept the score close with six free throws. The Wildcats didn't hit their second field goal until Samantha Mahoney canned the first of two three-pointers that dropped UF's lead to three, 19-16, with 10:42 remaining in the period. Briana Phillips sank one free throw for the Gators before Mahoney hit another bucket that cut the lead to 20-18.

The teams then traded buckets before Briana Phillips' short jumper sparked a 6-0 spree and UF regained an eight-point advantage, 28-20, with under seven minutes left. But UK came right back with a trey from Angela Phillips that started a 9-2 run and had the Wildcats within one. But Sarah Lowe drove the lane for a layup after collecting an offensive rebound to keep the lead with UF. After an inside jumper from Sarah Elliott, Gator freshman Depree Bowden confidently nailed a three-pointer from the right corner. Tashia Morehead then sank a pair of free throws after collecting a steal and driving to the bucket where she was fouled. UK stopped a significant Gator run with a bucket, but Tamia Williams followed with treys on consecutive UF possessions and the Gators entered the locker room with a 43-37 lead.

Williams netted 12 points in the first half for the Gators, who saw eight of 10 players score during the opening period. UF shot 51.5 percent (17-33) from the floor, showing significant improvement from its previous game when the team shot just 22 percent in the first half in a loss at Alabama.

Kentucky shot a solid 55 percent (11-20) from the field and hit 12-of-14 from the free throw line. The Wildcats held a 14-10 rebounding lead, but were forced into 12 turnovers that the Gators converted into a 15-1 advantage.

The Gators next play host to Mississippi State on Sunday in the O'Connell Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m.

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