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Monday, March 04, 2024

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The UF women's basketball team failed to score for the first seven minutes of the second half and let a 6-point halftime lead disappear into a 79-62 defeat at Louisville on Sunday.

Bad decisions and poor shooting during that stretch allowed Louisville (4-2) to score 19 straight points and left the Gators wondering why they continue to crumble on the road.

UF (4-4) committed nine turnovers and missed nine straight shots to open the second half, going scoreless until a Depree Bowden jump shot.

"More so than the turnovers, more so than fouls and lineups and shots falling or not falling is that when we're down, the last 10 minutes, eight minutes, six minutes of a ballgame we've got to believe we're still going to win," UF coach Amanda Butler said. "For some reason we don't. We're struggling with that."

Cardinals forward Angel McCoughtry had 22 points, eight rebounds and nine steals. The junior, last season's Big East Player of the Year, carried her team in the first half, scoring 18 of the team's 32 points by shooting 8 of 13 from the floor.

UF utilized both zone and man-to-man defensive schemes with Bowden, Kim Critton, Sha Brooks and Jennifer Mossor all guarding McCoughtry during different parts of the game.

Butler felt her team did pretty well containing her, considering she didn't reach her season average of 27 points per game.

"She is by far the best player we've faced so far," Butler said. "She's one of those kids - the only way she's not going to score if she doesn't have the ball in her hands."

Combined with UF mistakes, a big factor in Louisville's comeback had to do with freshman forward Keshia Hines who scored 23 of her 25 points in the second half.

"I'm not sure what she drank at halftime, but she needs to keep drinking it," Louisville coach Jeff Walz said.

Despite Louisville's dominance, it looked like the Gators caught a break when McCoughty picked up her fourth foul with 9:11 left in the game. UF capitalized on her absence right away, scoring 7 straight points to close the gap to 59-52.

It was the closest the Gators came to reclaiming the lead.

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Mossor remembered feeling hope but didn't know why the charge ended.

"I really thought we had it," Mossor said. "I don't know what it is, but we gotta figure it out."

The Cardinals put away the Gators with a 14-1 run to extend their lead to 20 points with less than two minutes to play.

Butler compared the loss to similar mental breakdowns in the team's other three losses, against Florida State and on the road at Nebraska and at Jacksonville.

"We're talented enough, we're deep enough, we're capable enough to make it happen, but we're still not believing it's what's supposed to happen for us," Butler said. "There becomes a point where you believe you're going to do it or you don't. We're choosing don't right now."

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