Florida shot a season-low 29.8 percent from the floor on Sunday, but the cold shooting was not what fired up coach Amanda Butler.
Butler was annoyed with her team’s inability to efficiently battle on the boards with a physical No. 19 South Carolina team.
Coming into the game, South Carolina was the best rebounding squad in the Southeastern Conference, outrebounding opponents by an average of 11.2 boards per game.
The trend continued Sunday.
The Gamecocks used a 59-41 advantage on the glass to notch a 52-44 victory in the O’Connell Center, denying the Gators an important conference win and leaving Butler exasperated with her team’s performance.
“You have to give South Carolina a lot of credit,” Butler said. “They played very tough. Obviously, it was their No. 1 agenda item to outrebound us, and they did that and then some.”
Butler spent the week preparing for South Carolina by urging her team to play with increased toughness and use better decision-making.
Florida turned the ball over just nine times, yet Butler was still displeased with her team’s indecision to play aggressively, particularly following missed shots.
“We gave up 26 offensive rebounds, so I think there’s a lack of toughness,” Butler said. “Some of the times, it was poor decision-making. I think, offensively, our problems were very similar to our rebounding problems — we just weren’t physical enough.”
The Gators played without senior Jennifer George, who missed the game due to lingering effects from two dislocations of her right shoulder suffered during the past two weeks. George’s 13.4 points and 8.5 rebounds per contest lead the team.
South Carolina coach Dawn Staley was pleased to see George out of the lineup. In two matchups against the Gamecocks last season, George averaged 16.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.
Staley was well aware of the void in Florida’s lineup.
“I was kind of happy she wasn’t able to play because she gets double-doubles on us every single time we play them,” Staley said. “We did feel like we did have the advantage inside.”
Sophomore Aleighsa Welch paced the Gamecocks with 12 rebounds. Eight of those came on the offensive end, including a critical rebound following Ashley Bruner’s missed free throw with 31 seconds remaining in the second half and South Carolina leading 46-42.
The Gamecocks shot a destitute 23.4 percent from the floor and finished just 17 of 33 from the foul line but benefited from their dominance on the glass.
“[Welsh is] the best in our league at getting offensive rebounds,” Staley said. “She’s got great timing, and she’s relentless.”
Butler was less satisfied with the performance of her players, offering pointed criticism at Vicky McIntyre and most of the team after the game.
McIntyre replaced George in the starting lineup, scoring four points and pulling down six rebounds in 17 minutes. She reiterated Butler’s remarks, expressing frustration with her inability to better impact the game.
“Obviously not happy with my performance, and it wasn’t acceptable,” McIntyre said.
“They’re a very physical team — probably the most physical in the paint we’ve played thus far. That’s not an excuse at all, but it’s something we didn’t do well adjusting to.”
Contact Phillip Heilman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Florida center Vicky McIntyre (34) attempts a shot over a South Carolina defender in the O'Connell Center during Florida's 52-44 loss to South Carolina. After one season with the Gators, McIntyre will not return to UF next season.