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Friday, August 19, 2022

Lately the UF women's basketball team has depended on a balanced scoring attack to win games.

Saturday night was all Marshae Dotson.

The junior forward accounted for 26 points and 10 rebounds in the Gators? 70-49 victory against Alabama A&M in the finals of the State Farm Classic.

Dotson, named tournament MVP, matched her career high in points and recorded her fifth double-double in just 26 minutes of action.

BCoach basically told us to pound the ball inside,C Dotson said. BI?ve just got to work for it.C

UF (9-4) won the tournament title for the 14th time in the Classic?s 17-year history.

Stingy defense also came to UF?s aid.

The Bulldogs (2-7) shot just 28.1 percent from the field, and their 49 points is the lowest total the Gators have allowed all season.

The game started off similar to UF?s opening-round matchup as the Gators opened play with a 10-2 run.

The Gators again had trouble holding onto a big lead, however, allowing the Bulldogs to cut the margin to 3 on a free-throw by Jenna Collier with 1:30 left to play in the first half.

Alabama A&M capitalized on a stretch of 7:29 in the first half during which UF did not make a field goal and the Gators missed all seven of their shots from beyond the arc.

They were further hindered by foul trouble as Dotson, Aneika Henry and Depree Bowden were all saddled with two fouls in the first half.

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BIt doesn?t allow us to press as much as we?d like to since we aren?t especially deep in the post as we?d like to be,C Butler said. BWe had some lulls in there and it wasn?t ideal, but how many basketball games are?C

Trailing by just 5 at halftime, the Bulldogs came out with renewed intensity after the break.

The Gators countered by going down low to Dotson, who converted buckets on the first two possessions after the break.

They would open things back up again by scoring 7 straight points to lead by 14 after two Dotson free-throws with 12:09 left to play.

The prettiest play of the day may have come when sophomore point guard Brittaney Thomas deflected a pass, grabbed it and started a string of quick passes from Thomas to Sharielle Smith to Sha Brooks to Dotson back to Thomas, who finished it with a layup while being fouled.

Thomas made the free-throw to complete the three-point play and the Gators were up by 20 with 7:58 left. The Bulldogs did not threaten again.

For Butler, the tournament was a chance to achieve what she has set out to do here at UF, no matter the competition: win championships.

BWe?ve talked about since the beginning … of generating championship expectations,C Butler said. BTo have an opportunity to win a championship on our home floor, in front of our home fans was big for us.C

Senior guard Depree Bowden joined Dotson on the All-Tournament team.

It is the first such honor for both players.

The other players named to the team were Alabama A&M?s Katrich Williams, Holy Cross? Briana McFadden and UNC-Asheville?s Ashton Barton.

Holy Cross defeated UNC Asheville 79-60 in the consolation game Saturday afternoon.

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