Facing an opponent from The Golden State, the Gators were the ones left shining Friday night.
And as has been the case for much of the past two seasons, it was California native Jennifer George who did the heavy polishing.
George scored 17 points and pulled down 12 rebounds — her second double-double this season — to help Florida (7-3) defeat Pacific (7-1) 89-82 in the O’Connell Center.
A free throw with 22 seconds remaining in the second half gave George 1,000 points in her career. She is the first Gator to reach the 1,000-point milestone since Marshae Dotson accomplished the feat on Feb. 10, 2008.
“It means a lot,” George said of the milestone. “I know there’s been a lot of great Gators to come through here and to be the 21st — that’s an honor.”
George was inserted into the starting lineup after coming off the bench in Florida’s 87-62 win against Troy on Tuesday. Coach Amanda Butler was displeased with George’s practice habits prior to Tuesday’s game, which led to her benching.
Butler, however, was satisfied with George’s performance in the win and went with George to start Friday’s game.
Kayla Lewis scored 13 of her career-high 15 points in the second half to help the Gators withstand a run by Pacific that cut a 21-point UF lead to five points with 57 seconds remaining.
After shooting just 33.3 percent in the first half, Pacific shot 54.3 percent in the second half, rallying back from a 43-29 halftime deficit.
Jaterra Bonds, who finished with a game-high 20 points, iced the win by making two free throws with 29 seconds remaining.
“[Bonds] stepped up to the free-throw line with composure and hit some big ones,” Butler said. “She’s worked really hard to make sure she’s making the right decisions.”
The Gators took control of the game early with a 21-5 run that turned a 13-12 deficit into a 33-18 lead with 7:06 remaining before halftime.
Aiding the run was Florida’s hot shooting. The Gators made 64 percent of their first-half shots — the highest percentage in a half since shooting 68 percent in the first half against Bethune-Cookman on Dec. 19, 2003.
The win avenges a 78-73 loss suffered by the Gators on Dec. 9 last season. More importantly, it is a quality win for a Gators team that will need as many as possible at the end of the season.
“[It was] a really good win,” Butler said. “I think that team is a postseason team for sure.”