COLLEGE STATION-Junior All-American candidate Kelsey Bone continued her torrid play collecting her 12th double-double to lead No. 11 Texas A&M to a 78-71 victory of Florida at Reed Arena.
Bone dominated in the paint throughout the night and the Gators had no answer, along the way Bone collected her 12th double-double on the season with 31 points and 10 rebounds.
"We were just watching the Bone show tonight, Bone played great," Head Coach Gary Blair said after the game about Bone's performance. "Her free-throw shooting was great, we got the ball inside and Bone took advantage of her touches."
A&M (20-5, 10-1 SEC) won its eighth straight game overall and twelfth straight at home to move into a first place tie with idle Tennessee (19-5, 10-1). The 10-1 start sets the record for best conference start by the Aggies in program history, the win also marked the 20th of the season for the eighth straight season.
A&M opened the game making the first 4-of-5 shots to take an early seven point lead forcing a Gator timeout. Bone was everywhere in the opening minutes tallying two points, two rebounds and a steal in less than four minutes of play.
Following the first media timeout the Aggies went on a 10-0 run to force another Florida timeout. Bone continued her impressive night scoring four points in the run, including a nifty step-through reverse layup.
The Gators used a 20-6 run over eight minutes of action to cut the A&M lead to just two with 2:27 to play in first half. Senior Adrienne Pratcher made a half-court shot as time expired to put the Aggies ahead 34-27 at the break.
"We were playing great defense the first ten minutes of the ball game, but then it was give or take after that," Blair added after the game. "We've got to be able to sub and get our continuity going better with our subs then what we had tonight."
A&M came out of the break with a 13-2 giving the Aggies and then game-high 16 point lead. During the run Bone scored seven tough points in the paint to continue her stellar night.
The Gators did not quit, outscoring the Aggies 31-16 in 10 minutes of action to cut the A&M lead to as little as four points. Bone sank seven free-throws in the final two minutes to seal the Aggie victory, on the way to a new career high nine free-throws in the game.
A&M dominated the boards throughout the game outrebounding the visiting Gators 39-27 with 12 offensive rebounds leading to 19 second chance points. The Aggies did not allow a Florida second chance point until the 7:49 left to play.
"I've got a lot of love for my basketball team," Blair added about playing on Valentine's Day. "Someday I expect them to go out there, and we shoot 46%, and we 22 out of 26 from the line, and we outrebound them by 12."
Joining Bone in double-figures were seniors Kristi Bellock with 13 and Pratcher with 12. Pratcher and freshman Courtney Walker lead the Aggies with five assists apiece.
Florida was paced by Jaterra Bonds' 17 points, Lily Svete added 15 on five made three pointers and January Miller added 11 to round out the double digit scorers for the Gators.
The Aggies return to the court for another Big Monday showing against No. 7 Kentucky at 6:00 p.m. Elementary school students can register online for free tickets to all remaining home games, parents can go to http://www.12thmanfoundation.com/ticket-center/promo/elementary.aspx to register their children for free tickets to the game. Monday's game will be the seventh annual Beat the Hell Outta Breast Cancer game with proceeds benefiting the Kay Yow Foundation, visit www.aggieathletics.com/bthobc for more information.
Texas A&M Women's Basketball Postgame Quotes:
Texas A&M Head Coach Gary Blair
"Before the ball game, on Valentine's, I took my wife to dinner at 5:30 at Traditions, I gave the coach at Florida a rose before the ball game, and we almost gave her the game at the end due to very good execution on their part, and very good point guard play by Bonds on their part. And the youth of our basketball team on the defensive end showed, and we haven't been in a whole lot of those situation. The lack of communication hurt us, but sometimes you have to give credit to the other team because I think only one of those shots was wide open. The rest of them we were trying to get there either on the screens, but they executed and didn't give up, so I would just like to give Florida a lot of credit for what they did. Butler said before the game she thought the two best point guards in the league were her kid and my kid; I'm not going to doubt that a whole lot. I'm going to have to throw in O'Neal there at Kentucky, but I thought the point guard play on both teams was very good. The leadership by both kids was very good; I played Pratcher a little longer than I really wanted to, but this wasn't a ball game that my bench really helped me out a whole lot. When we had the big league in the first half, I was trying to rest people for a little bit, but then they countered and cut it to a two point game. By the time you get your first group back in, the other team has momentum. Exactly the same thing happened in the second half; we have a 20 point lead, I try to rest some kids. It's not that they played so bad, it's the other team played so good and you lose the flow of defense, you lose the flow of continuity, then you have some untimely turnovers in there. I thought we stood around on offense against the zone. We were just watching the Bone show, instead of moving around to the ball or cutting to the basket to be able to help her off. Bone played great, but we've got to have some help from some of our freshmen out there knocking down some shots and reading and attacking the zone which we didn't have. The free-throw shooting was great, we got the ball inside. Tori off the bench, that's why I started her in the second half, she gave us some excitement out there and gave us some easy baskets that Williams hadn't been giving us. Hopefully this will give a wakeup to Williams because there's competition at that spot; it's not a given who's going to start and who's going to play. Hopefully Courtney will take it to heart and get back and have a better practice the next couple of days to be able to play on Monday against Kentucky."
On preparing for Kentucky
"Kentucky almost lost it today, but that's what a home game can do. You come back, and the crowd can get you into it, and Kentucky did a good job of coming back like they did on us when we had the lead at their place. Now I'm going to focus on Kentucky, but I'm going to correct some mistakes tomorrow, and I'm going to correct some attitude adjustment, where we had the leadership, but everybody else just had a glazed look on their face. We've got to be able to take coaching better and take accountability better out there on the court because we are going to play a fired up Kentucky team who is going to try to win this SEC just like we are."
On best conference record
"Hey, it's Valentine's Day, and there is a lot of love right here. I've got a lot of love for my basketball team. And some day I expect them to go out there, and we shoot 46%, and we 22 out of 26 from the line, and we outrebound them by 12. But then normally, we're not going to win a game that we're giving up what we gave up to them percentage wise. We were playing great defense the first ten minutes of the ball game, but then it was give or take after that. We've got to be able to sub and get our continuity going better with our subs then what we had tonight. We can't keep playing those kids 35 minutes a ball game. We've got to have double figures from those kids on the bench. Peyton has got to hit those shots. Williams has got to play better, and I'm hoping this might be a breakout game for Scott. But hey, I've got a lot of answers for that spot."
On Pratcher's play since last meeting against Kentucky
"She's never flustered. She just handles the thing and works well with Bone. She's very good in traffic coming down and finding the open person. Most point guards shoot too much; sometimes, she doesn't shoot enough. She would rather deliver it, stay out of the spotlight, and just do her job, and that's just the way her personality is. Pratcher is solid; she is really going to have her work cut out against O'Neal. O'Neal basically won the game at Kentucky. I know Mathis had 24 points or something, but the point guard play was tremendous. We've got to quit turning the ball over against pressure, and that's what Kentucky did against us."
On allowing the comeback
"I think a lot of it has to do with continuity through subs. Sometimes you see a big lead and get a little comfortable, so I think everybody has to be ready for the opportunity. We get the big momentum swing with Adrienne's shot at the buzzer but there was a drop off. When we drop off in scoring there is a drop off in defense. To me that is a sign of immaturity and we have got to fix that on the practice floor or it will come back to bite us. "
On game and high stats
"My teammates just know how to get me the ball. I take pride and I am excited to play with a group of guards that can post feed; it's a lost art of basketball. Florida played single coverage so I took advantage of it. Coach has been on my case about getting to the free throw line, and I finally did it and made a couple. Without my teammates I wouldn't get those opportunities."
On looking ahead
"I look forward in the morning after class. Our last few games are so tough and it's a strenuous schedule, it's the hardest of the top teams that anyone has left. We need all of our students and fans; it's going to be a fight, they are a great team. I think a game like tonight helps us going into Kentucky. Now we know what we need to work on going into a top ten team. We haven't fared too well against top ten opponents this year."
On team development since Kentucky
"Adrienne Pratcher is what has improved since the last time we played Kentucky. She is just playing with a ton of confidence and she is leading this team. Our focus has improved. We don't have the luxury of looking ahead. This is a new conference so we can't look ahead and know what's next, so we have to focus game-by-game and step-by-step. It forces us to focus on each game."
On allowing the comeback
"Early in the first we defended very well, but late in the second we started getting away from what we know. We did a very good job of keeping them off the free throw line. Early in the second half we struggled and gave up way too many threes."
On buzzer beater
"When we got the rebound the first thing I did was look up at the clock. I didn't just throw it up; it was kind of a shot, I worked on it this week in practice. It is definitely the longest shot I've made. I worked on it three times this week after practice. I knew it was going in when it left my hands."
On team development since Kentucky
"I think we have matured way more. I think our guards understand the importance of being able to defend a player like Mathis. I think our rebounding has improved even on the defensive end. I think we have matured together as a team."
Florida Head Coach Amanda Butler
"We have to give credit to A&M and Kelsey for setting the tone from the beginning. Basically every time she touched the ball she made something good happen for them. Based on what we've seen this year, conference and non-conference, she is the most dominant post player in the country and I think she deserves that title. Our post players didn't have an impact tonight, which was disappointing. At the same time I'm very proud of our young players and our fight."
On comeback"We shot the ball very well. We just finally started buckling down and getting some stops. We didn't match up with Bone no matter who we put on her. We knew that if we did what we needed to do we could fight our way back into it. I thought we showed a great deal of resiliency and confidence and belief in one another."