COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Florida coach Amanda Butler saw the defense she wanted from her team against high-scoring No. 4 South Carolina. Things were far different, however, on offense.
While the Gators' swarmed the taller South Carolina front line, they couldn't find the basket themselves going for long stretches without points in a 69-55 loss Sunday.
Jetera Bonds scored 20 points on nine field goals. Her teammates combined for just 10 field goals as the Gators lost for the fourth time in five games. They had separate first-half stretches with 11 and nine straight missed shots.
"We didn't do a good job of showing a lot of grit and toughness and confidence in the paint and making the plays we needed," Butler said. "I think Jetera really embodied the game plan we wanted to bring to the table today, but we didn't have it uniformly across the board."
Bonds acknowledged the difficulty of facing the Gamecocks, who feature 6-foot-4 post players Alaina Coates and Elem Ibiam. Florida has one player over six-foot in Lily Svete.
Coates had five blocks and Ibiam three.
"They're supposed to block the shots," Bonds said. "You can't be scared or timid going in the paint or you're going to miss the shot every single time.
South Carolina's win, combined with No. 15 Kentucky's 83-74 victory over 16th-ranked Texas A&M, clinched a share of the Southeastern Conference title.
"This is exciting," forward Aleighsa Welch said. "Now, we've got to take care of business."
Staley and the Gamecocks (25-2, 13-1 SEC) have done that much of the season, including against the pesky Gators (17-10, 7-7) in front of the second largest crowd (10,547) ever to watch women's basketball at 11-year-old Colonial Life Arena.
Tiffany Mitchell scored 20 points, Alaina Coates had 16 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Gamecocks.
Staley, the basketball Hall of Famer, reflected on the title few believed the program would win when she arrived from Temple six years ago. "It feels great to do what most people thought we could never get done here at South Carolina," she said.
The Gamecocks had never won more than 11 SEC games in a season. Staley's first team in 2008-09 won just two, but entered this year with consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.