Brooks leads Florida over Temple 70-57
STORRS, Conn. (AP)—Florida matched a school record for victories in a season on Sunday. Breaking that record will be a much bigger challenge.
Sha Brooks scored 18 points and the eighth-seeded Gators (24-7) beat Temple 70-57 in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Florida gets undefeated and top-seeded UConn next, after the Huskies routed Vermont 104-65 earlier in the day.
“We’re happy to be in that situation,” said Marshae Dotson, who had 13 points for the Gators. “We have to play better than we did today. We’re really going to have to put two great halves together to be prepared for Tuesday.”
Steffi Sorensen had 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Gators (24-7), who led just 43-39 in the second half before scoring nine straight to take control of the game.
“We came out and shot the ball well and stayed composed,” Sorensen said. “We went on our runs and they went on theirs. The big thing is we started rebounding more. We were getting hands on them and were grabbing the loose balls. In the end it all came together for us and that was the biggest thing.”
Temple used its press to try and get back into it. But the Owls were 0-for-12 from 3-point range, while Florida hit six of 13 shots from behind the arc.
“I just think today wasn’t a good offensive game for us overall,” said Lakeisha Eaddy, who was held to just two points, and hit just one of nine shots. “It wasn’t just shooting 3s, it was just not doing everything right that we do on a daily basis.”
Shenita Landry scored 13 points for the ninth-seeded Owls (21-10). Shanea Cotton and Kristen McCarthy each added 12.
After watching their Huskies, many UConn fans inside Gampel Pavilion were rooting for the Owls, who are coached by former UConn assistant Tonya Cardoza. She spent her previous 14 seasons with the Huskies.
Temple had won 10 of its final 12 games coming into the tournament, while Florida had lost five of its last six.
The Owls had problems guarding Florida’s post players early. Dotson and Aneika Henry combined for 13 of Florida’s first 15 points. But Temple held Brooks without a point for 12 minutes and trailed just 20-19.
Florida responded with a 14-2 run to stretch that to 34-21, and Brooks had seven during that stretch. Temple used its press to cut the gap to eight, 41-33 at the half.
The teams combined for 40 turnovers.
After beating Tennessee at home Feb. 8, the Gators lost five of six, including road games to Vanderbilt, LSU and Georgia and at home to Arkansas. Their only win in that stretch came against South Carolina, the last-place team in the SEC, before losing to the Volunteers in the conference tournament.
Florida and UConn have played just once, in 1991, when Gators coach Amanda Butler was a sophomore. UConn won that one 71-48.
Most of UConn’s players watched the game near the Temple bench, cheering on the Owls and their former coach.
The Owls, who have been in the NCAA tournament eight times and in each of the last six seasons, have never made it past the second round.
Florida is making its 12th NCAA tournament appearance, but its first since 2006.
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