TWO BITS: W. basketball’s losses, lacrosse’s win

1 » Whether it was the season itself, head coach Amanda Butler’s style or a variety of other factors, three players have left the Gators women’s basketball team. Trumae Lucas, Tessah Holt and Christal Caldwell have all exited the program, which went 15-17 on the season and failed to make the NCAA Tournament after doing so one year ago. The women (short staffed by the transfers) also lost their second-round WNIT game against the Miami Hurricanes, falling 77-64. Sophomore center Azania Stewart had a team-high 18 points with six rebounds and four assists.

2 » On Saturday, Florida lacrosse (5-3) took down No. 17 New Hampshire Wildcats (4-3) 15-3 at home at Donald R. Dizney Stadium. Freshman attacker Ashley Bruns scored six goals as the Gators won their first game against a ranked opponent in program history. Florida’s defense only allowed New Hampshire 11 shots and three goals over the course of the entire match.

Extra Bit » The Gators won seven events at the Black and Gold Challenge hosted by the University of Central Florida at the UCF Track and Field Complex on Saturday. For details on each event victory, click here. Track and field returns to action and Orlando, FL, next Saturday to participate in the UCF Invitational.

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FOUR BITS: NFL Combine, Strong poaches recruit

1 » Former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow, linebacker Ryan Stamper, defensive end Jermaine Cunningham and kick returner Brandon James have received invites to the 2010 NFL Combine. Juniors who have declared for the 2010 NFL Draft have yet to receive invitations, but fans can expect DE Carlos Dunlap, cornerback Joe Haden, tight end Aaron Hernandez and safety Major Wright to participate in the event from Feb. 24 to March 2 in Indianapolis, IN.

2 » Three-star athlete Marcus Smith (Columbus, GA) had an outstanding scholarship offer from Florida and was prepared to take it…that is until Louisville Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong came calling. “If Louisville would have never been in the mix, I would have probably went to Florida,” Smith told the Courier-Journal. “But I’m glad Louisville came into the mix. I like coach Strong a lot, and I really wanted to play for coach Strong. Louisville is a great program. He wants me to play quarterback, he established that during our talk this morning. To tell you the truth, I just want to play, so I am good wherever he wants me.” Upon taking his position with the Cardinals, Strong said he would not poach recruits the Gators were interested in unless they initiated contact.

3 » The Gators hosted their biggest remaining recruiting weekend the past few days and a number of both committed and undecided prospects came away impressed. Four-star running back Mack Brown (Lithonia, GA), who at one point was wavering after head coach Urban Meyer announced his leave of absence, solidified his recruitment after getting extensive time with new running backs coach Stan Drayton. Brown also told Adam Gorney of Rivals that Meyer may return as soon as March. “He looked pretty fine to me,” Brown said. “He looked healthy. I know he wants to coach, so I know he’s going to be there. He’s going to take a couple weeks off in February, but he’ll be back.” Fellow four-star recruits offensive tackle Chaz Green (Tampa, FL) and wide receiver Christian Green (Tampa, FL) raved to numerous sources about their respective experiences.

4 » Coming off of a heartbreaking loss to the No. 4 Tennessee Volunteers with just two seconds remaining in the game, the Florida women’s basketball team gained a bit of revenge by taking down the Mississippi State Bulldogs 55-52 on the road on Sunday afternoon at Humphrey Coliseum. Sophomore guard Trumae Lucas scored seven points off of the bench in the waning minutes while senior forward Sharielle Smith led the Gators with 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting while also grabbing seven boards.

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Florida basketball teams dominate on Wednesday

Still trying to recover from three straight losses after climbing to No. 10/11 in the AP Top 25 and USA Today/ESPN Top 25 polls three weeks ago, Florida Gators basketball (10-3) rolled the Presbyterian Blue Hose (2-12) 79-38 on Wednesday night in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Junior forward Chandler Parsons led Florida with 21 points including two three-pointers and three dunks.

Fellow forwards juniorAlex Tyus and freshman Erik Murphy posted double-doubles in the Gators’ victory, scoring 16 points each; Tyus collected 13 rebounds while Murphy grabbed 11 boards. Florida shot 30 percent from downtown with freshman guard Kenny Boynton going 3-for-8 from beyond the arc, leading the team in makes and attempts while finishing with 14 points. Freshman point guard Rod Tishman saw seven minutes of limited action, earning two points, rebounds and assists.

Gators sophomores G/F Ray Shipman (knee) and center Kenny Kadji (back) both sat out the contest; starting redshirt junior transfer C Vernon Macklin only played 14 minutes. F Jake Trovli led the Blue House with 14 points. Florida will next face the North Carolina State Wolfpack in Raleigh, NC, on Sunday, Jan. 3, 2010, at 3 p.m.

Also on Wednesday, the women’s basketball team (7-6) defeated the Jacksonville Dolphins (1-9) for head coach Amanda Butler’s 50th win at the school. The Gators shot 54.5 percent from the floor while limiting Jacksonville to only 26.5 percent shooting. Sophomore G Trumae Lucas and freshman F Jennifer George led the team with 15 points each while senior F Sharielle Smith turned in the sixth double-double of her career with 11 points and 13 rebounds.

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