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Record support can't carry UF

By DEBI JONES

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 12, 2001


GAINESVILLE -- The setting for Sunday's game against Tennessee may have been a little different for Florida.

In front of a crowd typical for the men's team, No. 6 Florida fell 103-73 to the No. 2 Volunteers.

"We had it all set up for a great game," Florida coach Carol Ross said. "And it was all that for the first 20 minutes. For the last 20, it was all Tennessee. They did an excellent job of rebounding the basketball all night long."

A record 12,222 donned face paint and gorilla costumes for the game. They taunted the team that has defeated the Gators 28 times in the 29-game series.

The old record for a women's game, 5,031, also came against Tennessee, in 1999.

"We are accustomed, for whatever reason, to playing in front of big crowds," Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said. "It's a real compliment to our basketball team as well as coach Ross and what her team has accomplished.

"(The Vols players) told me (the crowd was) a little rowdy when they came back in from warmups. I said, 'Good. Wait until I go out there. I bet they'll be on me, too.' "

Even with the crowd, Florida did not hold the lead after 18 minutes were left in the first half. It trailed by as much as 11.

The Gators pulled within two at halftime courtesy of a 12-3 run during the final three minutes. The run was punctuated by Tombi Bell's running jumper as the clock expired.

"Tamara (Stocks) did a great job of getting the ball to me," Bell said. "That was a big momentum swing for us heading into halftime. Unfortunately, it didn't last."

Tennessee regained the momentum after the half, taking a 20-point lead with about 12 minutes remaining. Florida's fatigue and frustration showed in rebounding and fouling.

During the second half, the Gators had 14 fouls and 16 rebounds, compared with six fouls and 21 rebounds during the first. Stocks and Vanessa Hayden fouled out.

"Fouls are a reaction," Ross said. "Fouling is the greatest defensive error you can make. It doesn't surprise me that we had so many fouls; we were reacting to a lot of things."

Fouling was a problem for Tennessee during the first half. Center Michelle Snow played four minutes after two quick fouls, but she came back and scored 19 points.

Brandi McCain had 18 points and Bell 11 for the Gators. Both guards played all 40 minutes.

The Volunteers took advantage of their depth, with nine players playing at least 10 minutes.

"We got some valuable play from our bench," Summitt said. "You start adding those minutes up and you look at Florida's situation, and they obviously did not have the fresh bodies we had late in the game."

The fatigue, along with the rebounding and foul trouble, were not enough for Ross to explain the lopsided loss.

"I just thought we were so dang bad, period," Ross said. "We certainly have to go back to the basics."

USF 55, SO. MISS. 52: Aiya Shepard had 27 points, leading the host Bulls in scoring for the eighth time in 10 games, and added 7 rebounds and 4 steals as South Florida earned its first Conference USA victory.

The win was USF's first since Dec. 30 against Towson and ended the second-longest losing streak in the program's 29 seasons at 11 games. Another loss would have tied the longest streak, established six seasons earlier.

"This is just a credit to the girls continuing to work hard and continuing to believe that we're better than our record," coach Jose Fernandez said. "We came in here with three wins and hadn't won a game in league play. Southern Miss is a good club. They have won five games in Conference USA.

"I believe we're playing our best basketball of the year right now. The girls are really focused."

Shepard's layup off her steal with 1:07 left gave USF the lead for good, 51-50.

FSU 77, MARYLAND 65: Brooke Wyckoff scored 14 of her 20 points in the second half, and Levys Torres has 14 points and 10 rebounds as the Seminoles rallied for their second straight road win.

Top 25

NO. 3 UCONN 78, BC 53: Swin Cash and Diana Taurasi had 16 points each as the Huskies avenged a loss in their previous appearance at Conte Forum, a 78-66 Eagles win Jan. 23, 1999, that snapped UConn's 16-game Big East winning streak.

NO. 5 PURDUE 74, OHIO ST. 71 (2OT): Shalicia Hurns had 19 points and 14 rebounds, and Katie Douglas hit a layup with 17 seconds left for the visiting Boilermakers. Hurns sent the game to overtime with two free throws with 30 seconds left to tie it at 59. Emily Haynam's two baskets in the final 1:25 of the first overtime pulled Ohio State into a tie at 63.

NO. 13 XAVIER 92, FORDHAM 73: Jennifer Phillips scored 24 points as the visiting Musketeers tied a season high for points.

NO. 14 LSU 62, ARKANSAS 58: Marie Ferdinand had 26 points, including 10 of the Tigers' last 11 as visiting LSU came from behind. The Razorbacks took their first lead at 44-42 with 10:01 left and remained ahead for the next 8:30 before Ferdinand took over.

NO. 15 SW MISSOURI ST. 91, EVANSVILLE 65: Jackie Stiles, the nation's leading scorer, had 25 points and Carly Deer had 22 and 14 rebounds to lead the host Bears.

NO. 18 VANDERBILT 72, OLE MISS 58: Chantelle Anderson had 24 points and Jillian Danker 19, and the visiting Commodores outshot the Rebels 52 percent to 34 percent.

NO. 20 WISCONSIN 70, NORTHWESTERN 54: Jessie Stomski had 16 points on 8 for11 shooting and added five steals for the visiting Badgers. Jane Allbright became the coach with the most wins in school history with 132.

NO. 25 CLEMSON 72, WAKE FOREST 55: Nuria Forns had 18 points and Krystal Scott 16 as the visiting Tigers ended a four-game skid.

- Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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