Bone's 31, Pratcher's heave pace eighth straight win
Published: Friday, February 15, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 15, 2013 02:02
Adrienne Pratcher said she spent time after practice working on the shot three times last week. So when her half-court heave sunk to beat the first-half buzzer, A&M head coach Gary Blair said it had nothing to do with luck.
Junior center Kelsey Bone — fresh off a 31-point, 10-rebound night — just rolled her eyes as Pratcher said she knew she made the shot "when it left my hands."
"Of course she did," Bone said with a laugh.
Pratcher's three-pointer at the end of the half threw a wrench in Florida momentum and the Aggies held on down the stretch for a 78-71 home win over the Gators. A seven-point halftime lead ballooned to 20 by the midway point of the second half, large enough to withstand a hail of three-pointers by Florida — led by junior guard Lily Svete — and No. 11 A&M notched an eighth consecutive conference win to keep pace with conference leaders Tennessee and Kentucky.
Bone asserted herself in what Blair called "the Kelsey Bone show."
Florida head coach Amanda Butler said Bone deserves the respect she gets.
"She's the most dominant post player in the nation and I think she deserves that title," Butler said. "We didn't match up well with her no matter who we put on her."
A&M (20-5, 10-1) rushed to a 21-5 lead, finding baskets in its transition offense. Florida would regroup, however, getting back in transition and forcing shots at the end of the shot clock. The Gators (15-10, 4-7) would cut the lead to two at 27-25. Moments later, Pratcher would drill her buzzer-beater.
Mirroring the first half, Florida would threaten once more in the game's closing moments. Blair was forced to return to his starters as the lead dipped to seven at 65-58 with just over two minutes to play. Three Svete three-pointers in the final moments kept Florida in reach, but efficiency at the free-throw line — including a career-high nine made free throws from Bone — held off the late rally.
Bone said the blown leads are a symptom of immaturity.
"We got the big momentum swing with [Pratcher's] shot at the buzzer, but then there was a dropoff," Bone said. "To me that's a sign of immaturity and we have to fix it."
Florida connected on 6-of-9 attempts from three-point range in the second half to eat at the gap.
Pratcher (12 points, five rebounds, five assists) and senior forward Kristi Bellock (13 points, eight rebounds, two blocks) turned in utilitarian performances.
Junior guard Jaterra Bonds led Florida with 17 points on 7-of-16 shooting to go with a game-high seven assists and Svete pitched in 15 with five made three-pointers.
A&M out-rebounded Florida by a 39-27 margin, won the battle for second-chance points 19-2 and shot 54.2 percent in the second half to break open the game.
With a showdown against No. 9 Kentucky on Monday, Blair had spoken prior to Thursday’s game about a possible trap scenario. After securing the win on Valentine's Day, Blair said he was glad to get out of Reed with the win.
"I gave the coach from Florida a rose before the game and we almost gave her the ballgame at the end," Blair said.