As the Florida women's basketball team trailed Georgia 42-25 in the third quarter last week, the clock stopped for a timeout. The Gators huddled on the sideline waiting for instruction, motivation or some combination of the two.

But it wasn't a coach who gave the team its much-needed pep talk.

Fifth-year senior guard Carlie Needles took care of that.

"(She told us) stuff I don’t really wanna repeat," fellow guard Simone Westbrook said.

"She just gets in your face, gets you hyped up and tells you not things that you necessarily want to hear, but things we need to hear."

Carlie’s motivation was not enough against Georgia, as the Gators fell 71-61. But many times this season, it has been exactly what the team has needed.

The Gators have gained a reputation for coming back to win games late.

They did it against rival and then-No. 6 Florida State earlier in the season. They did it against LSU in their last game.

And, most notably, they did it in Rocky Top against then-No. 12 Tennessee, when UF coach Amanda Butler was absent from the sidelines due to a family emergency.

Butler is quick to credit her team’s senior leadership for that scrappy mentality, and that starts with Needles.

However, for the 5-foot-6 sharpshooter from Highlands Ranch, Colorado, it’s nothing new.

"From day one," her high school coach Bill Bradley said of Needles being a leader back in her prep days.

Bradley was also quick to praise her relentless nature, which he said makes her qualified to lead.

"You’re never going to question Carlie’s effort," he said. "Those are the kind of kids that can lead — you can never question their effort, so they can demand things out of everybody around them."

And Carlie demands a lot of her teammates.

"She’s the one to take you by your neck, you know?" Westbrook said. "She’ll get on your butt if you’re not doing things."

But the ability to lead and the desire to work hard are not her only intangibles — in fact, they might not even be her strongest.

"The biggest thing you’ve gotta know about Carlie is what a competitor she is." Bradley said.

When she was a freshman in high school, Needles traveled to Phoenix with her ThunderRidge High School squad for the Nike Tournament of Champions.

Her Grizzlies were pitted against a team that featured a senior All-American in guard Nikki Speed, who went on to play collegiate basketball at Rutgers.

"Carlie went out and competed with her tooth-and-nail," Bradley said.

Needles ended up dropping 24 points compared to Speed’s 19.

She still brings that same desire to compete and win every time she takes the court for UF, whether in a game or in practice.

Before any given game and before most practices, Carlie can be found taking shots well before any of her teammates make it to the court.

"All of the best players that I have coached, regardless of position, are gonna be the first people to get out," assistant coach Bill Ferrara said.

And usually, that’s Carlie.

Those intangibles have resulted in a notable career as a Gator — one in which she ranks fifth in UF women’s basketball history in made three pointers with 187, just seven behind fourth place.

But when asked what Needles’ legacy will be when she’s gone next year, Butler didn’t point to any statistics or records —just the intangibles.

"The way that she works, her energy, the things that don’t show up on the stat sheet," she said.

Contact Ethan Bauer at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @ebaueri.

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