The University of Florida’s women’s basketball team received an at-large bid to play in the upcoming NCAA Division-I Women’s Basketball Tournament. The Gators earned a No. 11 seed after going 19-12 in the regular season, and will be facing a sixth-seeded Dayton team on Sunday that finished the season with a 23-7 mark.
Florida finished fifth in one of nation’s toughest conferences, which also produced two of the tournament’s number-one seeds; South Carolina and Tennessee. The Gators were anxiously waiting to hear their postseason fate Monday night, as there were murmurs that the team would possibly be playing in the WNIT instead.
Florida head coach Amanda Butler was confident in her team all along.
“There was not any question in my mind, and I have a pretty discriminating mind with these sort of things; we deserved to be in. It would have been a great injustice if we weren’t, but I wasn’t dwelling on that. I was confident we were going to be in. You can’t help but start to feel the ‘what ifs’ a little bit, but luckily we didn’t have to wait to the last name called or something crazy like that,” Butler said.
The Gators ended the season on a sour note losing six of their last 10, losing their final game in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament to Kentucky. Butler also commented on how the team is looking to start fresh.
“This time of year is when you really rely on your leadership to have that perspective; that it really doesn’t matter, especially now, in this moment. Maybe it mattered an hour or two ago (before the selection announcement), when wins and losses are weighing heavily on you, but it really doesn’t matter at all now,” Butler said.
The team has been led all season by the leadership of senior guard Jaterra Bonds, who was the team’s leading scorer. Bonds shared her thoughts on the team heading to the NCAA tournament.
“I feel great. Before the season even started, that was one of the things on my checklist that I wanted to accomplish, and we ultimately did; so right now I’m very excited,” Bonds said.
Bonds knows that heading into this tournament that everything changes, and that each game is going to be close.
“You’re not going to see games where people are getting blown out; you may not even see games where people are winning by 10. It’s going to be games people are winning by three or one point. It’s so much emotion; you don’t know what each team is carrying on its shoulders, the motivation that they have. So you can’t take anything for granted; not one possession, not anything,” she said.
The winner of this game will play either No. 3 seed Penn State (22-7) or No. 14 seed Wichita State (26-6).
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