After making a school-record nine threes four days earlier, redshirt freshman Carlie Needles again came through behind the arc for the Gators on Friday.
With Florida trailing by two points late in the second half, Needles connected on a three-pointer in the waning seconds to give the Gators the lead.
In a game that featured 14 lead changes, the shot helped the Gators to a 66-64 victory against N.C. State at the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout in Las Vegas.
“I have all the confidence in my shot right now,” Needles said. “But I have to give credit to my teammates finding me and having the confidence in my shot also to give me the ball for the last couple of seconds.”
Florida (4-1) finished 6-10 in games decided by 10 points or fewer in 2011-12. Its victory was its first game with such a margin this season.
Needles said securing the late victory was a relief after the frustrations that came with numerous close losses last season.
“We said in the huddle we weren’t going to let this be like last year,” Needles said. “We weren’t losing those two-possession ballgames.
Needles finished the game with nine points — coming from her three makes from behind the arc. It was the second consecutive game all of her points came from made threes, as she scored 27 points on nine threes against North Florida.
Her late heroics overshadowed freshman Sydney Moss, who notched her first career double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Moss also proved helpful defensively as the Gators limited an N.C. State team that came into the game averaging more than 88 points per game.
Kody Burke scored 21 points and collected 13 rebounds, but the 64 points were a season-low for the Wolfpack.
Coach Amanda Butler was pleased with her team’s efforts to slow N.C. State (4-1). The Gators struggled from the free-throw line but turned to their defense to seal the victory.
“There were a lot of areas that had they been better, maybe this wouldn’t have been a two-point ballgame,” Butler said. “But you overcome it with your defense. That’s what we preach. That’s what they believe.”
Needles admitted it wasn’t the team’s finest performance, but it got the job done.
“We really came together,” Needles said. “An ugly win is better than a pretty loss.”