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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The UF women's basketball team turned to one of its veterans to lead the way Monday night.

Junior forward Marshae Dotson scored 25 points on 10-of-19 shooting and added 16 rebounds to lead the Gators to a 67-63 victory against Robert Morris.

Both figures were just shy of career highs for Dotson.

"We ask Marshae to do a lot, but when you're a great player, a lot is expected of you," UF coach Amanda Butler said. "She knows that we're going to keep going to her until they stop it."

The Gators (2-0) defeated Xavier 82-71 Friday night in the team's season opener. UF made a 51-point second-half effort to overcome a 32-31 halftime deficit.

Dotson fractured her nose after taking an elbow to the face in Friday's match.

Doctors told her not to wear a mask for Monday's game because it would press too hard on her face.

"I told myself I couldn't think about getting hit in my face," Dotson said. "Just play."

Dotson's courage motivated her teammates as well.

"When we weren't hitting shots outside, we were giving her the ball and she was attacking the basket," senior guard Depree Bowden said.

Perhaps the most surprising stat in Monday night's box score was from another veteran, guard Sha Brooks, who finished the night scoreless. After scoring 16 points Friday against Xavier, the junior missed all ten of her field-goal attempts Monday and had just one rebound and one steal.

"Sometimes it just doesn't fall," Butler said.

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Robert Morris attempted to match UF's quick pace in the early minutes, at times utilizing a full-court press and pushing the ball on offense. Instead of high-scoring action, the teams combined for a sloppy, seven turnovers to just seven total points in the first 4:45 of the game. The teams combined for 20 turnovers in the first half alone.

The Gators struggled against shooters in their zone defense, and Robert Morris guard Sade Logan made back-to-back three-pointers to cut the lead to 30-29 with 1:55 left in the first half.

The Gators' three-point shooting woes also continued as the team went 1 of 11 from behind the arc.

The Colonials stayed in the game, even taking their first lead early in the second half on a free throw by senior Chinata Nesbit.

With just more than a minute left, Logan knocked down a jumper to pull the Colonials within 1 point.

The Gators would answer as Bowden drove down the baseline and laid the ball off the glass to send the lead back to 3.

Dotson stole a Colonials inbound pass with 30 seconds left to seal the Gators victory.

Butler's motto is "constant improvement," and she continues to see that in her team.

"We're getting better," she said. "That's where we always want to be. There are lessons to be learned from this game. … We're going to do everything we can to win."

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