GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Dolphin contingent was small but loud at Exactech Arena Tuesday night, where the Jacksonville University women's basketball team fell shy of completing a comeback over the Florida Gators.
Jacksonville overcame a 22-point deficit in the third quarter to close the gap to eight in the final minute, but dropped the contest, 69-59.
Brandi Buie finished the evening with a season-high 25 points on a 9-for-19 effort from the floor and 6-for-6 mark at the free throw line. Ten points were recorded in the final quarter.
"We started to understand our worth a little too late, but I'm proud of my team," said Head Coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin. "Championships are not won in November, but we definitely can build towards the end goal. Tonight allowed us to see some things as a unit, and we look forward to the next two challenges on the road."
The Dolphins were able pressure the ball for stops, but turnovers opened the door for four of the Gators' first seven points.
Buie interrupted Florida's 7-0 run with a trip to the free throw line (6:50), and the makes sparked a quick run for the 'Phins, as they closed the frame down, 14-10.
Second chance points allowed the Gators to pull away in the second quarter.
Eleven of UF's first half rebounds were offensive, and the extra opportunities led to 13 points. At the half, it led 33-21, and in similar fashion to the start of the game, the Gators opening the third quarter with an 8-0 run.
Buie again thwarted the stretch, but this time, with a fast break layup. She became the first Dolphin to score in double-figures with her second perfect appearance at the free throw line.
"I just tried to attack. Coach Yo said that even though they were tall, we would still have chances at the rim," said Buie, also a senior captain on the team. "We're building towards where we want to be in March, taking baby steps and we have a way to go, but I'm proud of the fight tonight."
Jacksonville trailed by 13 at the start (9:10) and midpoint of the fourth quarter (5:23) – both after efforts by Buie – and made it a game in the closing minutes.
Alexis Pierce pushed it to a nine-point game with back-to-back makes, a corner three-pointer and midrange jumper, with 1:08 left. The freshman then forced a turnover on the Gators' next possession and it led to a split trip at the line by Kayla Gordon.
With its next two games on the road, Jacksonville embarks on a trip to Alabama for Friday action against Troy and a Sunday tilt against South Alabama.