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Gators win on the road

©Associated Press

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 5, 2001

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- No. 14-ranked Florida won its Southeastern Conference opener with an 82-70 win against No. 17 Mississippi State.

"This game was every bit the battle I knew it would be," Gators coach Carol Ross said. "The first SEC game for everyone is huge, and this was an especially big win for us because it came on the road against a Top 25-ranked team. We scrapped and got the job done."

After Tombi Bell hit two free throws to give Florida a 65-54 lead with 8:32 remaining, the Bulldogs went on a 9-2 run to cut their deficit to five, 67-62, with 5:32 to go. Sherisha Hills ended MSU's run with a 7-foot jumper, but MSU hit a pair of free throws to keep Florida's lead at five.

The Gators then returned to their inside game. Post players Naomi Mobley and Vanessa Hayden scored eight of their 10 points in the next four minutes to build their lead back to nine with less than a minute left.

"I thought rebounding, free throws and how we pressured their guards were going to be a big factor in tonight's game for us," Ross said.

Florida outrebounded MSU 49-39, as Mobley and Hayden combined for 22 rebounds. Both finished with double doubles. Mobley had 16 points and Hayden 10.

GEORGIA ST. 89, JACKSONVILLE 69: Sophomore post player Kat Sungy had 18 points and eight rebounds and sophomore guard Lexie Richards scored 17 in a losing effort for host Jacksonville. The loss snapped Jacksonville's two-game winning streak.

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