Sydney Moss is playing in her first postseason, but the freshman guard looks fully comfortable with the raised stakes.
Moss scored a game-high 27 points as Florida survived another close contest, topping James Madison 85-80 in the Elite Eight of the WNIT in the JMU Convocation Center on Saturday.
“Sydney has played her best basketball in these past four ballgames,” coach Amanda Butler said. “That’s what great players do. … You see great players raise their level of play.”
Moss leads the Gators with 19.5 points per game during the WNIT. She set a career-high with 28 points during a 75-68 win against Florida International in the first round and nearly eclipsed the mark on Saturday.
She finished the game 11 of 20 from the field, while pulling down nine rebounds and adding four assists and three steals.
“My teammates boosted my confidence,” Moss said.
Said junior guard Jaterra Bonds: “She’s been great. She’s just unstoppable. I put her up against anybody, and I still give her the edge. She’s just so versatile with what she is able to do.”
Bonds added 20 points, four rebounds and five assists for Florida (22-14), which will play in the Final Four against the winner of the Auburn-Drexel matchup that is slated for Saturday night.
Florida beat Auburn 65-57 on Feb. 10 and has not played Drexel this season.
The Gators would not have the opportunity to continue playing without the performances turned in by their top two guards. Moss and Bonds helped Florida overcome James Madison’s nine threes during the contest.
Senior guard Tarik Hislop led the Dukes with 26 points on 10-of-19 shooting. Hislop connected on a three-pointer to give James Madison (25-11) an 80-79 advantage with 1:06 remaining in the game.
But freshman January Miller was able to hit a jumper on the ensuing possession, and Bonds made four free throws to complete a 6-0 Florida run to close out the contest.
“I couldn’t be prouder of my [team],” Butler said. “This team’s will and determination is much greater than any excuse it will take to lose.”
A radio broadcast contributed to this report.
Contact Phil Heilman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Freshman guard Sydney Moss (40) drives to the basket during Florida 69-58 win against Arkansas on Feb. 28 in the O’Connell Center.