GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Dominique Dillingham led three double-figure scorers with 16 points, but Mississippi State was unable to overcome a season-high matching 22 turnovers and heavy foul trouble in its Southeastern Conference opener Thursday night at Florida.
Florida shot a higher percentage and took advantage of the extra possessions to post an 82-72 victory at the O’Connell Center.With the win, Florida improved to 11-3 overall and 1-0 in league play, while MSU fell to 13-2 and 0-1.
“We lost the game at the guard position,” MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said.”We didn’t get anything from Martha (Alwal) inside. They neutralized her. The advantage for them tonight was the guard positions. We couldn’t get over the hump. Every time we could get it under 10, we missed a shot or we missed the front end of a one-and-one.”
The Florida guard trio of January Miller, Jaterra Bonds and Cassie Peoples were a combined 20-of-41 from the field. Christin Mercer also hit 6-of-12 shots off the bench.
Florida scored four straight points to break a 9-9 tie. A 3-pointer by Carlie Needles ran the Florida lead to 18-12. The Bulldogs closed within three only to see the hosts scored the game’s next five points.
The lead would be stretched to 11 and later 14 before Florida led 40-30 at the intermission.
“We were a young, inexperienced, immature team on the road in the SEC,” Schaefer said.”We played absolutely awful and only lost by 10. We played them dead even in the second half.
In her conference debut, Dillingham scored 16 points, giving her double figure scoring in six of her last seven games. Richardson posted her second straight double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. James added 12 points.
MSU closed within seven in the early stages of the second half only to see UF stretch the lead to as many as 17 with 4:16 left.For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 24 of 70 shots from the field (34.3 percent), 6 of 18 shots from 3-point range (33.3 percent) and 18 of 28 shots from the foul line (64.3 percent). The Gators hit 29 of 62 shots from the field (46.8 percent), 2 of 10 shots from 3-point range (20.0 percent) and 22 of 28 shots from the foul line (78.6 percent).
Florida held a 47-43 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 10 assists and 22 turnovers, while the Gators had 13 assists and 23 turnovers.
Florida received 23 points from Peoples, 18 points from Bonds, 12 points from both Miller and Mercer.
MSU hosts Auburn at 2 p.m. Sunday.