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Monday, March 04, 2024

Sha Brooks entered Saturday's game looking for just 3 points to make 1,000 for her career, but seemed poised to fall short as she went scoreless for the opening 34 minutes of the game.

The junior did her best to make up for it, however, scoring 12 points in the final 5:23 to help the Gators seal an 83-77 victory Saturday afternoon against St. Louis.

Brooks topped the millennium mark on a 3-pointer from the right wing with five minutes left to play.

BMy shots just started to fall,C she said of her late-game spree. BI knew we had to pick it up a little bit, so I was really concentrating a lot trying to create fouls and get to the free-throw line.C

While Brooks may have put together a scoring surge late, it was guard Depree Bowden who carried the Gators (7-4) for the majority of the game.

The senior tied her season high with 23 points and equaled her career mark of 6 assists.

She also added a team-high four steals as well as seven rebounds.

BShe wasn?t going to let us let this slip away,C UF coach Amanda Butler said of Bowden?s performance. BWhen there were moments that we dipped our intensity, she was the one that was talking out there on the floor and getting her teammates in the right spots.C

Butler improved to 5-0 all-time against the Billikens after facing them four times during her two-year coaching stint at North Carolina-Charlotte.

That history didn?t help her as much as she might have thought.

St. Louis guard Theresa Lisch scored a career-high 35 points, tying the school?s record for points in a single game and gives her the second-highest total this season by an opponent against the Gators. It was the sophomore?s fourth game back in the lineup after missing the first eight games due to injury.

BThey might as well have been a team we didn?t know at all,C Butler said. BThey are a team that absolutely takes on a different personality and a different level of confidence and intensity with her in the game.C

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Injuries made UF?s job tough as the Gators dressed only eight scholarship players against the Billikens.

That lack of depth hurt the Gators as they flirted with foul trouble the whole game.

All three post players - Sharielle Smith, Marshae Dotson and Aneika Henry - picked up at least two fouls in the first half.

It got worse when Dotson and Smith picked up their third personals before halftime.

All three would play plenty of minutes with four fouls in the second half

Smith and Henry would eventually foul out in the last few minutes of the game, but the Gators managed to hold on as St. Louis was forced to foul UF?s guards to stop the clock.

The victory gave UF its first three-game winning streak since the 2005-06 season.

St. Louis coach Shimmy Gray-Miller has seen UF play a few times over the past few years and said despite having many of the same players, she sees a drastically different team than even the one that made the NCAA Tournament two years ago.

BThey work a hell of a lot harder than they used to work,C Gray-Miller said. BThey?re more aggressive and more disciplined. … Same players, but completely different players.C

INJURY UPDATE: The Gators had three more players than usual sporting the team?s black jumpsuits Saturday, which designate a player who isn?t playing that day. Sophomore guard Jennifer Mossor is day-to-day with an abdominal infection. Butler said she hopes to have her back after Christmas. Freshman center Ebonie Crawford collided with Smith during practice Thursday and is day-to-day with a neck sprain. Freshman guard Kerri Simpson missed Saturday?s game with an illness and is expected to return soon.

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