The Florida women’s basketball team took down the Tigers of LSU in a close 77-72 showdown on Sunday in the O’Connell Center. This was a huge confidence booster for the Gators (12-4, 1-1 SEC) who were narrowly defeated by Kentucky, 76-69, earlier in the week. Gator head coach Amanda Butler says this bounce back victory was crucial for her team because she expects most league games to be won or lost by just a few points.
The game featured four lead changes, the biggest coming with 9:05 remaining in the second half when the Gators took a 60-58 lead. Then with about five minutes left in the game Florida senior power forward Jennifer George went down with a shoulder injury. When George did not return, redshirt sophomore forward Kayla Lewis felt responsible for keeping LSU off the glass.
While Lewis worked on the boards, redshirt freshman guard Carlie Needles was locking the Tigers up on defense. She recorded her first career block with just seconds remaining and went to the free throw line, sinking them both to ice the game. Although it was a huge play, Needles joked that coaches shouldn’t expect that on a nightly basis.
Fellow guard Jaterra Bonds also hit several clutch free throws, finishing 7 of 8 from the charity stripe. In the past two games Bonds has gone 18of 19 from the line and she says she knows the importance of free throws and feels poised when put in pressure situations.
The Gators continue SEC play on Thursday when they visit Mississippi State. Florida then returns home on Sunday for a three game home stretch.