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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

UF went from near-heartbreak to euphoria in less than 10 seconds.

With the score tied, Gators forward Marshae Dotson missed a potential go-ahead jump shot with 10 seconds left, and Arkansas guard Brittney Vaughn drove down the court, poised to attempt her own possible game-winner.

At midcourt, Vaughn inexplicably lost her footing. UF guard Sha Brooks picked up the loose ball and was intentionally fouled before she could make a layup.

With 1.2 seconds left, Brooks had two chances to win the game.

The junior sank both free throws, and the Gators (16-10, 5-6 Southeastern Conference) walked away with a crucial 75-73 victory Sunday against the Razorbacks (17-8, 2-8 SEC).

"As soon as she tripped, I saw the ball and I was like, 'I gotta get it, I gotta get it,'" Brooks said. "I just knew once I got the steal I had to hurry up and get a layup in."

It was a tough loss for Arkansas coach Tom Collen to swallow. Just before the final sequence, Vaughn (18 points, seven rebounds) hit the game-tying 3-pointer with 30 seconds left.

"I thought (our kids) outplayed Florida," Collen said. "The kid that had been attacking all day long just tripped and fell. I believe in my heart, and I told her this - she was going to go down and score. They really had not stopped her all game long."

UF coach Amanda Butler admitted to being a little worried when she saw the ball in Vaughn's hands after Dotson's miss.

"It was not a very settling feeling," Butler said. "Every time that we did something good or went on a little bit of a run, she answered somehow. … I didn't know what was going to happen."

Guards Depree Bowden and Jennifer Mossor took turns anchoring the UF offense Sunday.

Bowden scored 13 of her 17 points in the first half, while Mossor added 16 of her 20 after halftime.

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UF allowed Arkansas to shoot its highest field-goal percentage of the season - 56 percent, including 8 of 17 from behind the arc. It was the highest mark the Gators have allowed all season.

As the Gators fight to remain on the NCAA Tournament bubble, this was a game they had to have.

It wasn't nearly as easy as UF's 92-74 victory in Fayetteville on Jan. 20, but the Gators continued to have an advantage in transition, scoring 18 fast-break points and 23 points off turnovers.

"They kept leaking somebody out on us instead of boxing out," Collen said. "They kinda just kept cherrypicking, to be honest with you. We struggled with that."

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