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Arizona State defeated by Florida

November 29, 2008

Despite a furious 14-2 rally in the closing minutes, the No. 21 Arizona State women's basketball team came up short on Saturday, falling to Florida 65-60 in the Lucaya Division championship of the Junkanoo Jam.

Florida (6-1), which has reeled off six consecutive wins since dropping its opener to Florida Gulf Coast, appeared it would coast to victory when Jennifer Mossor's free throw gave the Gators a 61-46 advantage with 5:11 remaining. However Arizona State (3-2) would score 14 of the game's next 16 points to close within three, 63-60, on Nia Fanaika's layup with 49 seconds left.

ASU's comeback bid would come up short when Florida senior guard Sha Brooks converted a pair of free throws to make the contest a two-possession game with seven seconds remaining.

"We need to realize it does not it does not matter if you are playing a ranked team on their home floor or an unranked team on a neutral floor, you have to work and play hard and we sure did not do that in the first half," ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne said following the game. "We were not taking things away from them and we were not doing what we were supposed to be doing."

Briann January, who was named to the all-tournament team after averaging 17.5 points in ASU's two Junkanoo Jam contests, led ASU on Friday with 16 points and tied a career-best with four three-point field goals and came one assist short (9) of tying another career high before fouling out in the final minute of the game. Also contributing for the Sun Devils were seniors Lauren Lacey (10 points) and Sybil Dosty (8 points, 12 rebounds).

Prior to ASU's final run, Florida had maintained a comfortable lead for much of the game. After the Sun Devils took a 4-0 lead in the game's opening minute, the Gators reeled off the next 10 points to go up 10-4 at the 16:20 mark of the first half. The Sun Devils got within three, 15-12, on a layup by Lacey, with just under 13 minutes left, however the Gators would answer with 8-0 run to push their lead to 11. Brooks, who was named the MVP of the tournament following a game-high 25 points, would account for five points during the run, capping it with a three-pointer to give the Gators a 23-12 lead with 12:23 left in the first half. Florida, which shot 52 percent during the first 20 minutes compared to 32 percent for ASU, would increase its lead to 14 at the half.

The Sun Devils came out with a determined effort in the opening minutes of the second half, scoring the first seven points to cut Florida's lead to 34-27. However the Gators would answer as Brooks scored back-to-back baskets to push Florida's lead back up to 11.

ASU would cut Florida's lead to six on two other occasions, but each time the Gators would answer ASU's rally. After a jumper by Lacey made it 46-39, the Gators went on a 10-2 run to go up 56-41 before ASU's final comeback attempt which brought them as close as three.

"Obviously we struggled to make shots," Turner Thorne said. "We got good looks and they did not fall for us and this team has yet to realize that they still can win [even when shots are not falling].

"It was an unbelievable effort in the final minutes to outplay them the way we did and work that hard. There are some great lessons in this game. Hopefully we can learn them quickly and make some adjustments."

The Sun Devils return to action on Wednesday when they go on the road to face UC Davis (7 p.m. PT/8 p.m. MT).