With one final chance to bolster their resume prior to the Southeastern Conference Tournament, the Gators fell short in their regular season finale on Sunday.
Freshman guard Sydney Moss notched her third career double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, but No. 14 South Carolina outmuscled Florida and defeated the Gators 67-56 in the Colonial Life Arena.
“[South Carolina] did a great job,” coach Amanda Butler said.
The Gators (17-13, 6-10 SEC) pulled within 44-42 with 8:30 remaining in the second half after freshman guard January Miller connected on a three-pointer to cap an 11-5 UF run.
But South Carolina responded with a defining stretch of dominant basketball. The Gamecocks used a 14-5 run during the next 6 minutes to take a 63-49 lead.
Ten of South Carolina’s points came from the free throw line. The Gamecocks earned 35 trips to the foul line, making 21 of their attempts.
Florida, meanwhile, was held to just 11-of-15 shooting from the charity stripe.
“We seemingly had a tough time getting ourselves to the free-throw line, and they got there 24 times in the second half alone,” Butler said. “That was hard to overcome.”
Moss was Florida’s strongest offensive contributor throughout the game. The freshman guard has been dynamic for the Gators this season.
“We always want Sydney to think like a scorer and to be attacking and making plays after she’s been stopped as a scorer and for the most part, she did a good job of that today,” Butler said.
Junior guard Jaterra Bonds, Florida’s leading scorer during SEC play, finished with 12 points and four assists.
Bonds, however, committed nine of Florida’s 23 turnovers. South Carolina converted the 23 turnovers into 23 points.
“We talked about making plays when we needed to make plays,” Butler said. “When we had opportunities to make plays and make reads, we didn’t capitalize as much as we needed to.”
South Carolina (22-6, 10-5 SEC) set a program record for conference wins in a season with the victory.
Florida, which likely needs to win the SEC Tournament to earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament, will face Arkansas at noon on Thursday.
A press release contributed to this report.
Contact Phillip Heilman at email@example.com.