WOMEN'S HOOPS: Gators Fall To South Carolina

South Carolina's Melanie Johnson scored a career high 27 points and added 10 rebounds to lead the Gamecocks to an 81-63 win over Florida Sunday afternoon, a game which featured seven ties and 10 lead changes as the Gators were outscored 29-11 in the final 8:30.

The Gators (18-6, 6-5 SEC) were out rebounded by 10 and were constantly pounded on the inside by Johnson and Demetress Adams who combined for 45 points and 19 rebounds.

"Mentally we thought we were there," said Florida Coach Carolyn Peck, obviously disappointed with the loss. "I think physically we weren't there as well as we should have been. Adams and Johnson have great verticals. They can jump and we didn't do a very good job of keeping them off the boards."

Florida trailed only 35-31 at the half. The Gators were led by freshman guard Sha Brooks, who kept the Gators energized on the defensive end with four steals but as the game wore on, she became less of a factor both on defense and on the offensive end.

"She got a little bit passive, started passing up shots," Peck said. "We want her to always be an offensive threat… she's got to think score first."

Florida point guard Sarah Lowe left the game at the 1:34 mark in the first half with a groin strain but she was able to return in the second half.

"I did like a split and ended up banging my knees on the ground, I think I did something to my hip flexor or my groin," Lowe said.

The Gators led by as many as five points early in the first half but they went cold, scoring only 11 points the final 11 minutes. The Gators committed 12 first half turnovers which South Carolina transformed into 16 points.

In the first half the referees let the players bang inside as both teams combined for only nine personal fouls. However, both teams got into foul trouble in the second half and South Carolina made 13 free throws in final seven minutes to extend its lead and clinch the game. Peck said the Gators were unable to match South Carolina's aggressive and physical play.

"If it's going be officiated the way it is then we have to play a little stronger," Peck said.

Florida senior Brittany Davis was frustrated with the team's inability to keep South Carolina out of the lane. South Carolina scored 40 of its 81 points from inside the paint.

"We definitely have to box people out and secure the ball on defense," said Davis, who led Florida with 12 points and six rebounds. "They had great leapers and we just did a horrendous job of keeping them off the boards"

The Gamecocks shot 63.6 percent on 14-of-22 shots in the second half, while the Gators only managed 37.9 percent on 11-of-29 shooting.

The Gators take on the fourth-ranked LSU Tigers next, on Thursday at 7 p.m. in the O'Connell Center.

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