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No. 11 Florida Gators comeback from second-half deficit to upset No. 6 Dayton

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The 11th-seeded Florida Gators dispatched the sixth-ranked Dayton Flyers 83-69 in the second game at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pa., on March 23. The Gators put up 52 points in the second half to overcome an 11-point second half deficit.

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While the 52 points in a half is pretty amazing in itself, what made the Gators feat even more special is that they hung that number while committing four turnovers in the first 3:30 minutes of the second half. Dayton (23-8) scored 17-of-the-half’s first 26 points and held a 52-43 lead around the 12 minute mark.

Florida would control the game from that point on. The Gators was 13-for-21, including 3-of-7 from beyond the arc, from the field during the last half of the second stanza and outscored the Flyers 40- 17. Florida shot 52 (19-of-37) percent from the floor in the last 20 minutes and 46.9 percent for the game.

Cassie Peoples, who keyed Florida’s comeback, paced all five Gator starters in doubles figures with 21 points on 6-of-10 shooting. She was 8-of-8 from the foul line and dished out six assists as well as grabbed four rebounds.

Jaterra Bonds and Ronni Williams chipped in with 15 points apiece while Carlie Needles and Kayla Lewis contributed 11 apiece. Lewis also grabbed 11 rebounds to help the undersize Gators outrebound the Flyers 41-26.

Andrea Hoover tallied a game-high 22 points, 15 of which came in the first half, to lead Dayton. She was 8-of-15 from the floor and 4-of-8 from beyond the arc. Hoover alo grabbed four rebounds, had two dimes and four assists. Celeste Edwards, 7-of-16, and Amber Deane, 6-of-12, also shot the ball well and finished with 15 and 14 points respectively. Ally Mallot, who only played five minutes in the first half, contributed 12 points and three caroms.

Dayton was 14-of-27 (53.5 percent) from the floor in the first half but was just 12-of-30 (40 percent) during the second 20-minutes .

The game was tight and sloppily played throughout the first as the biggest lead by either team was five – Dayton held the lead each time the margin reached that point. All-in-all there was nine lead changes and five ties.

Dayton and Florida each turned the ball over 13 times in the first half.

Dayton is now 2-5 in the NCAA tournament and 0-4 against SEC foes while Florida has advanced to the second round of postseason play during each of head coach Amanda Butler’s seven years at the helm.

Florida will return to the Bryce Jordan Center on March 25, to take on Penn State (23-7) in the second round of the NCAA tournament.