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Sunday, March 03, 2024

Aneika Henry blocked shots without even leaving her feet.

Florida Gulf Coast would have few answers for the 6-foot-4 Henry, as the Eagles featured no player in its starting lineup taller than 5 foot 11.

The junior dominated the Eagles for 17 points, five rebounds and three blocks in UF?s 79-52 victory Tuesday night.

Gators coach Amanda Butler hopes Henry?s performance will give her confidence for the future after the junior center went 8-of-8 from the floor, giving her a new career high in points.

BThat?s a tough performance to replicate,C Butler said. BIt?s a positive for Aneika in terms of going from this point forward to take a challenge of stepping up when you are the biggest woman in the building.C

UF (5-4) had one of its best shooting nights from the field, connecting on 57.4 percent of its shots, including 42.9 percent from behind the 3-point line.

The Gators came in averaging just 26.4 percent from behind the arc.

That shooting combined with Henry?s presence down low made too big of a gap for FGCU to overcome.

BWhen we made a run and made it close, they did everything they needed to,C FGCU coach Karl Smesko said. BThey got the ball inside. They got some easy looks at the basket whenever they needed it, also complemented by hitting key 3-point shots to extend the lead. We just had too many wasted possessions to really stay in the game.C

Eleven of 12 Gators scored and walk-on Jordan Parker played for the first time in the regular season.

Senior guard Depree Bowden scored 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting and added six rebounds. Bowden was coming off a tough performance at Louisville on Sunday, where foul trouble limited her to only 13 minutes and she scored a season-low 2 points.

Butler said Bowden didn?t pout after the last game, and instead became determined to make the next outcome different.

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BIt?s just a demonstration of her toughness and leadership more than anything,C Butler said. BIt?s not like she had a week to get her mind back right. … She just spent every second that she could since we got off the bus from returning from Louisville, until tipoff tonight, getting in the gym and shooting. Because that?s how shooters build confidence.C

Junior guard Sha Brooks came close to notching a triple-double, scoring 10 points and adding nine assists and seven steals.

The Eagles did keep it close for a while, scoring 6 straight points to trail by just one with 13:45 remaining in the first half.

But UF came back with an 18-2 run, capped by a Bowden layup with three minutes left in the half, which gave the Gators an 18-point lead - their largest of the night.

After disappointing back-to-back losses, Butler found joy in simply coming away with a win.

BIn every huddle, in everything we talked about, we just wanted to win,C Butler said. BWe?re not going to talk about turnovers, we?re not going to talk about rebounding, we?re not going to talk about missed shots or made shots, we?re just going to win.C

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