WOMEN'S HOOPS: Gators Open Season With Win

SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. --- Freshman Sha Brooks (Jackson, TN) led an extremely balanced scoring attack helping the University of Florida women's basketball team to an 83-57 victory over St. Francis (NY) College in the first round of the Seton Hall Basketball Classic. The win, which was the Gators' 11th season-opening victory in the last 12 years, provided head coach Carolyn Peck her 100th career coaching win, as she improved her six-year record to 100-56.

Eight of nine Gators scored in the victory, with Brooks leading the way with 14 points along with four steals, while Dalila Eshe (Tallahassee), Depree Bowden (Palmetto) and Danielle Santos (Marietta, GA) netting 13 apiece. Brittany Davis (Gainesville) tallied nine points with five rebounds, while freshman Marshae Dotson (Columbus, OH) scored eight points on 4-of-4 shooting with seven rebounds. Rounding out the scoring was Kim Critton (Memphis, TN), who tallied seven and Jessica Jackson (Collierville, TN) who netted six.

"The most important thing was that we started the season off with a win," Peck said. "I didn't want our team to have any false expectations after our two exhibition wins. We knew we had to come out and play hard to get a win tonight. The game started nip and tuck and I was getting concerned with our minutes because we have to play again tomorrow. But our freshmen came in and did a great job. Our true test will be if we can do this on back-to-back nights."

The Gators next play tournament host Seton Hall (0-0) on Saturday at 5 p.m. in the second round at Walsh Gymnasium. That game will be broadcast live on the radio in Gainesville on WRUF-AM850 and thru the internet at www.GatorZone.com.

Tiffany Hill scored a game-high 26 points for St. Francis, which committed 26 turnovers. Justine Paxhia was the only other Terrier in double-figures, netting 17.

The teams exchanged buckets twice to begin the second half before Florida ripped off a 12-0 run to take a commanding 61-36 lead with 13:25 remaining. The Gators also turned up its defense holding the Terriers to 33.3 percent shooting for the half, 40.7 percent for the game. UF out-rebounded SFC by 10 in the final 20 minutes, emerging with a 39-30 edge on the boards for the game.

"We really turned on our defensive pressure in the second half," Peck said. "From start to finish, I thought our shot selection was excellent tonight. We looked to make the extra pass and we finished inside."

UF shot a steady 50.8 percent from the floor during the game, including a 55.2 clip in the opening stanza.

The game was tied at 29 with just over five minutes remaining in the first half before the Gators closed the period on a 13-2 run, using a smothering full court press that harassed the Terriers to commit several turnovers. Six different Gators scored during the run that helped UF build a 44-31 halftime lead.

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