When they needed her most, with the game on the line, senior guard Jaterra Bonds hit the deck after a missed layup attempt. She didn?t get back on defense. She didn?t even get up. Bonds was still on the hardwood, clutching her leg as No. 17 Texas A&M (23-7, 13-3 Southeastern Conference) pushed the ball down the floor. Luckily for the Florida?s women?s basketball team, it was only a quadriceps cramp.
With the Gators (18-11, 8-8 SEC) trailing by four points with?11 minutes remaining in the game, their leading scorer was helped off the court and taken straight back to the locker room in Sunday?s 83-72 loss on Senior Day.
?When I started cramping up, I just felt like ?why?? The timing of everything, why this game? But I kept asking in the back, ?what?s the score?? and ?what?s the time left?? But I had faith in my teammates that we weren?t just going to let them take over the game just because I was out. I was just trying to do everything to the best of my abilities to get back out there,? Bonds said. ?I knew I was going to come back in the game, but I just wasn?t so sure how effective I was going to be.?
Bonds knew when she stepped back on the court that she wasn?t 100 percent, but her team needed her.
The Aggies had gone on a 20-13 run, opening up a 72-61 lead over the Gators when Bonds returned with 3:59 left on the game clock. She only recorded an assist in the nearly two and a half minutes she would play before going to the bench for the remaining 1:38; her 18 points and five assists were both team highs.
Although their leading scorer was sidelined during the most important stretch of the game for the Gators, the 20 turnovers they committed were a glaring problem in the loss.
?We felt like some of that was a little bit self-imposed. Some of our turnovers were just silly and avoidable,? Florida coach Amanda Butler said. ?And that was kind of across the board, it wasn?t just one person or another.?
Texas A&M had 14 giveaways of its own. The difference was the 25 points the Aggies were able to convert off of the Gator turnovers compared to a paltry nine points for the Orange and Blue.
After the loss, the regular season is now over.? Florida owns the fifth seed heading into the SEC tournament and controls its own destiny looking forward to March Madness ? ESPN.com has the Gators as one of the last four teams in ? but Butler said her squad isn?t thinking about making its third tournament appearance in the coach?s seventh season at Florida.
They?re steadfast on making a run at SEC’s next week where the Gators will play the winner of Wednesday?s Missouri, Mississippi State matchup on Thursday in Duluth, Ga.
To hear more from the Texas A&M game, click below.