LAND O'LAKES - Coach Greg Robinson walked into the Land O'Lakes locker room before Thursday's game and scrawled two sentences on the board.
Do you still have heart?
Do you still have desire?
Then he walked out.
It took the Gators 31 minutes to give Robinson his answer.
Land O'Lakes edged Gulf 43-39 in a gritty non-district, Sunshine Athletic Conference battle.
It was a must-win game for the Gators (12-5) and their fractured psyche.
On Wednesday, rival Ridgewood defeated Land O'Lakes at home, overcoming a nine-point deficit and the loss of two-time SAC player of the year Crystal Ayers to a knee injury.
"They needed to win," Robinson said. "It wasn't pretty but I liked what I saw tonight. They never gave up."
The Gators saw an early 10-point lead evaporate, were outscored in the second and third quarters, then went 0-for-3 from the foul line to open the fourth.
A conventional 3-point play by Gulf's Brandy Thomas gave the Buccaneers a 39-37 lead with 2:27 left.
But that lead was erased by Melissa White's 3-pointer 21 seconds later.
Finally, Alison Foster put the game away with two free throws with 1:05 left.
The loss of point guard Dominique English to a knee injury haunted Gulf (14-7) in the final seconds. The Bucs could not set up a halfcourt play, or get off a solid shot attempt before Foster sealed the game.
"Down the stretch it wasn't easy," Gulf coach Mike Quarto said. "We missed a lot of opportunities in the transition game, and in a tight ballgame if you can get the transition baskets and turnovers and hit your free throws you're going to win."
Gulf's Tiara Cook scored 19. Land O'Lakes' Roshaunda Washington had 15. Foster had eight points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.