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Unheralded BYU routs Gators 90-52

UF handed its worst NCAA Tournament loss in school history.

By ERIK BROOKS
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 17, 2002


AMES, Iowa -- Sixth-seeded Florida fell to 11th-seeded Brigham Young in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday night at Hilton Coliseum, but this was no upset.

The Cougars dominated Florida in every phase on the way to a 90-52 victory. It was the Gators' worst NCAA Tournament loss and biggest overall since they lost 90-50 to Purdue on Nov. 26, 1999.

The Gators (18-11) ended the season losing four of five.

"BYU was clearly the better team," Florida coach Carol Ross said. "They simply had an answer for everything that we did. Whatever we did was not very good at all. Whatever they did was extremely good."

Florida fell behind 9-3 and never was in the game. BYU used a 15-1 run to turn a 13-7 advantage into a 28-8 lead with 9:50 left in the first half. Jennifer Leitner and Erin Thorn scored 13 of BYU's 15 during the stretch. The Gators made three of their first 24 shots.

Vanessa Hayden, who entered leading the team in scoring (17.6 points a game) and rebounding (12) had four points and eight rebounds in 22 minutes before fouling out. Hayden hardly touched the ball offensively and was immediately double-teamed once she did.

"It wasn't what they did as much as what I didn't do," Hayden said. "I didn't execute. I didn't play well, I didn't shoot well, I didn't rebound well.

"I didn't stay in the game and it cost us."

Brigham Young finished the first half on an 11-4 run to lead 39-18. The Gators did not score in the first 4:37 of the second half and got no closer than 21 after halftime.

Florida was outrebounded 49-39 and made 25.7 percent of its shots, 15.2 in the first half.

"We just didn't fight our way out of it," Ross said. "Fifteen percent in the first half? I don't care if you are playing in the NCAA Tournament or the Lady Gator Invitational, you are going to get whipped."

The Gators forced quick shots, and that played into BYU's hands. The Cougars worked the ball with precision and got open shots as a result, shooting 58 percent in the second half and 50 percent for the game.

"We don't want to play defense, so if they take quick shots that's good for us," said Leitner, who had 17 points and 17 rebounds. "We can just transition to offense."

It was the first NCAA Tournament victory for Brigham Young (23-8), which advanced to play third-seeded Iowa State in the second round Monday.

"I knew these guys could win if they believed in themselves," BYU coach Jeff Judkins said. "I think my team was very confident. They weren't scared. They came here knowing that if they played their game, they could beat them."

Senior point guard Brandi McCain led the Gators with 28 points. Thorn led BYU with 28.

"We had good overall team motion," Thorn said. "Our motion really confused them. My teammates found me open and I was able to knock down the shots."

-- Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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