Second-half rally lifts Florida over LSU, 77-72

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Jaterra Bonds scored a game-high 19 points and took over down the stretch as Florida overcame a nine-point second-half deficit to defeat the LSU women’s basketball team 77-72 on Sunday in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

The Lady Tigers (10-5, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) held their largest lead, 58-49, with 11:46 to play in the game. But the Gators went on an 11-0 run in a span of three minutes to take their first lead since the first half. The margin held up despite losing their top player, Jennifer George, who hit the floor hard with 5:03 to play. Florida converted 15 points off turnovers.

“We did a great job of getting ourselves a lead going into the half,” LSU coach Nikki Caldwell said. “We started going away from what got us there. We have to stick to the game plan, and we didn’t execute down the stretch. We started turning the ball over, and they got their transition game going. When you are on the road, you have to take care of the basketball. Turnovers got their momentum going.”

Four Lady Tigers finished in double figures, led by 17 points and five rebounds from junior forward Theresa Plaisance. Bianca Lutley, a Florida native, added 16 points and three steals. Freshman Danielle Ballard had 13 points in her first SEC road start. Adrienne Webb played all 40 minutes and finished with 11 points.

George, one of the top five scorers and rebounders in the SEC, had 15 points and 11 rebounds before leaving the floor with five minutes to play.

The Lady Tigers held a 44-36 lead at halftime and later a nine-point advantage before letting it slip away. Kayla Lewis’ layup with 9:08 remaining culminated the comeback and put the Gators ahead 60-58. Ballard tied the game at 64-64 with 4:48 to go on a cutter through the lane. LSU then went scoreless over the next three minutes that featured a series of turnovers and missed jumpers.

Bonds converted a layup, and Lewis converted two free throws to make it 70-64.

LSU’s McKinney threw one off the glass to cut it to 73-70 with 21 seconds to go, and Webb drew an offensive foul in front of the LSU bench as the Lady Tigers got one final chance.

Webb’s 3-point attempt from the right wing was blocked by Carlie Needles with four seconds to play. Bonds knocked down two more free throws to seal the victory in the final seconds.

Florida out-rebounded LSU 39-32 after getting out-rebounded by one in the first half. The Gators shot 46.4 percent to the Lady Tigers’ 42.9 percent.

The Lady Tigers continue SEC play on the road at Arkansas at 7 p.m. Thursday in Bud Walton Arena.