Following an unsuccessful three-game homestand that saw Florida lose each contest, the Gators traveled to Athens, Ga., looking to regain momentum.
Instead, their recent tailspin only grew worse.
UGA’s Tiaria Griffin scored 10 of her 12 points in the first 8:37 of the game, and No. 14 Georgia sent Florida reeling to its fourth consecutive loss with a 69-52 victory in Stegeman Coliseum.
Each of the past seven meetings between Florida and Georgia had been decided by nine points or fewer, but it became obvious early in the game that Sunday’s contest would not be another competitive installment in the rivalry.
Georgia (17-3, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) used separate first-half runs of 18-4 and 15-6 to take a 39-20 lead into halftime. UF did not have enough offense — an ongoing trend during conference play — and trailed by more than 20 points for much of the second half.
The Gators used a 17-4 run in the final 6:35 to shrink the deficit, but the Bulldogs had full control throughout the game.
“We did a really poor job of executing,” coach Amanda Butler said. “Georgia is a tough team to play.”
Florida’s previous four SEC losses came by an average of 6.3 points per contest, but poor shooting and questionable decision-making plagued the Gators. UF shot just 34.4 percent in the game while turning the ball over 17 times.
“We’re just a little bit out of sync right now,” junior forward Lily Svete said. “But we have a lot that we can still accomplish, so we need to keep our heads up and keep playing hard.”
Of the offensive struggles, Butler said: “Still trying to get back in the groove and get Jennifer (George) in her regular minutes and feeling comfortable and confident.”
George was one of four Gators who scored 8 points, but UF had no scorers in double figures. She made 4 of 7 shots as she continues to recover after suffering two dislocations to her right shoulder earlier in conference play.
Junior Jaterra Bonds was left questioning her team’s resilience following an 88-81 loss to Ole Miss on Thursday in the O’Connell Center, and she was equally displeased three days later.
Bonds came into the game as the third-leading scorer in SEC play averaging 17.8 points per game but was held without a field goal in the first half. She finished the game with just six points on 3-of-10 shooting, her worst offensive output since being held scoreless against Savannah State on Dec. 20.
Defense was equally troubling for the Gators, who allowed Georgia to shoot 43.1 percent from the floor. Jasmine Hassell led all scorers with 13 points, as the Bulldogs benefited from a Gators defense that was often out of position and seemingly confused.
After Sunday’s loss, Florida (13-8, 2-5 SEC) is three games under .500 in conference play for the first time since defeating Vanderbilt 74-69 on Feb. 25, 2011 to move to 6-9 two seasons ago.
“It feels bad to have lost four in a row, but again, we’ve got a really, really tough league,” Butler said. “We’ve got to get it back together and get our heads screwed on right and just play with more overall determination.”
A radio broadcast contributed to this report.
Contact Phillip Heilman at [email protected].