LADY HOOPS: Gators Go In Deep Freeze In 2nd Half

If Coach Carolyn Peck decides to burn the film of Thursday night's game with Georgia, it might be a good idea to throw a couple of cords of wood onto the fire and gather her team around to get warm. She might also want to have a doctor check her shooters for frostbite.

How cold were Peck's Gators in the second half of this Southeastern Conference game at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center? Start with these two stats. Florida went 3-23 from the field and 1-10 from behind the three-point line. Georgia meanwhile, hit 59.3 percent in the second half and four of eight three-pointers to turn a tight game at the half into a 63-38 rout before an announced crowd of 1,318.

When Tashia Morehead hit her three-pointer from the left wing with 8:26 remaining in the game, it broke a string of 15 consecutive missed shots from the field. During that same period, the Gators had scored only two points, both on free throws, and it really did look as if Florida would go an entire half without hitting one shot from the field.

By that time, the game was over. Florida's 25-22 lead at the half had been turned around to a 44-30 Georgia advantage, but the carnage didn't stop there. The Bulldogs (21-7 overall, 9-4 SEC) kept pouring it on and there was little the Gators (14-12 overall, 5-8 SEC) could do to stop them. Even without their freshman star Tasha Humphrey (19.2 points, 8.3 rebounds), who sat out the game, the Bulldogs were practically unstoppable on offense and their second half zone defense stifled Florida's offense.

"In the second half when Georgia went to their zone, the shots we normally hit just didn't fall," said Peck. "Tamia Williams and Tashia Morehead got the shots and the looks that we were looking for. We usually like it when teams go to a zone because we we're going to find the shots that we want. They just didn't fall today."

Part of the reason that Florida's offense went colder than a meat locker was the absence of leading scorer and rebounder Bernice Mosby (15 points, 8 rebounds per game). Mosby sat out the first half for a violation of team rules but was not on the bench in the second half. Peck said that her star left at halftime to "take care of some personal issues" of which she did not elaborate. Peck said she didn't know if Mosby will be available for Sunday's final regular season game in Baton Rouge against LSU.

The sitdown of the two stars, one for each team, helped to create a first half stalemate. Without Humphrey's presence inside, Brittany Davis got several open looks on the inside, finishing the half with eight points and all six of her rebounds for the game. Morehead worked the baseline for a couple of jumpers plus she twice got free inside for a couple of shots, too. Georgia's first half offense only got cranked up when Cori Chambers hit four consecutive three-point shots.

"The first half played into what we were looking to do," said Peck. "Our team did a very good job. We changed up our defenses and we forced a lot of turnovers in the first half. Brittany Davis was a big presence for us in the first half and that was what we were looking to do."

Florida methodically built a 17-10 lead in the first half when Chambers caught fire from the outside to bring Georgia's offense around. When the Georgia guard hit her fourth consecutive three-ball with 1:14 remaining in the half, it cut Florida's lead to a single point, 23-22. Florida ended the half on a high note when Morehead scored on a layup off a nice assist by Williams.

The solid play of the first half gave way to the cold shooting of the second. Florida had no answers for Georgia which clogged the middle and dared the Gators to knock down outside shots.

"The shots were there," said Peck. "We just didn't hit them."

Florida's shooting woes after the intermission were compounded by excellent shooting by the Bulldogs as well as outstanding defense on the perimeter which forced the Gators into 12 second half turnovers. Florida had no answer for Megan Darrah who scored eight points in an 11-0 Georgia run to start the second half.

Guards Sherrill Baker, Janese Hardrick and Alexis Kendrick continually harassed Florida's point guards into bad decisions. Combined with the faulty shooting and lack of rebounding, the Bulldogs turned the second half into a track meet and the Gators had no way of keeping up. The lack of production on the offensive end had a direct effect on the way Florida played second half defense, too.

"Defensively it takes the wind out of your sail a little bit when you're not making shots," said Peck, who said that she could "see the look in our shooters eyes when they didn't make shots and it was disappointing for them."

Morehead scored 14 points in the final home game of her career to lead the Gators. Davis, a junior center from Gainesville, added 13. For the game, the Gators shot 30.4 percent on 14-46 shooting from the field. Florida was 1-13 from behind the three-point line.

Georgia, which shot 39.1 percent in the first half, finished the game at 50 percent, 25-50. The Bulldogs were 8-14 from beyond the arc.


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