February 21, 2011 7:29:00 AM
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The University of Florida women''s basketball team used a 28-7 run in the second half to pull away for a 78-63 victory against Mississippi State in a Southeastern Conference game Sunday at the Stephen C. O''Connell Center.
MSU (10-16, 2-12 SEC) led 40-37 with 15 minutes, 52 seconds left in regulation, but Florida (15-13, 5-9) followed with its run to take control and earn a series sweep.
"I think our starting five are starting to learn each other a little bit better," MSU coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said. "Florida is a tough team. They have been in a lot of basketball games and have some close losses. We just have to step up and make the shots. I thought in the first half we had a good flow, regular substitution pattern and played hard defensively and took good shots even though the percentages weren''t there. Then in the second half we just got down. You see what they shot, and it makes such a difference when you have easy shots and get to the free-throw line like that. You are going to win a lot of ball games when you shoot 29 free throws and the other team shoots nine."
A layup by Ashley Brown gave MSU a 40-37 lead, but the Lady Bulldogs managed two field goals in the next 8:04. A jump shot by Ndidi Madu extended Florida''s lead to 65-47 with 6:47 remaining.
MSU closed within 10 with 3:36 to play on a Diamber Johnson 3-pointer, but that was as close as the Lady Bulldogs got.
Florida sprinted to a 10-4 advantage less than six minutes into the contest. The Lady Bulldogs answered with a 15-2 run, taking their first lead at 14-12 on a 3-pointer by Mary Kathryn Govero. Johnson followed with a 3-pointer and a baseline jumper to make it 19-12.
Florida scored the game''s next six points, to cut the deficit to 19-18.
Govero answered with a 3-pointer, and she scored four more points and Danielle Rector hit a layup on a give-and-go as MSU snuck into halftime with a 31-28 advantage.
Florida''s Jaterra Bonds tied the game at 31 on a 3-pointer to start the second half. MSU scored the next five points before Florida took a 37-36 lead on a 3-point play by Lanita Bartley (game-high 23 points).
Jennifer George added 21 points for Florida, which had a 43-37 rebounding edge.
"I''m just really proud with the way we played today," Florida coach Amanda Butler said. "It wasn''t perfect, and there were a lot of things we talked about at halftime that had to be different, but it''s great to come off the bye week and feel like you''re playing close to as good as you''ve played all season. I think that is what we saw in the second half and what should be happening as we generate some momentum as we go down the home stretch. It was a team effort. With the rebounding and some of the defense we played, that is why we won."
Govero finished with a team-high 17 points, while Johnson had 15. Porsha Porter had a team-high 10 rebounds, including eight on the defensive end.
MSU will play at 6 p.m. Thursday at Alabama. It will play host to the University of Mississippi at 2 p.m. Sunday at Humphrey Coliseum.