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COLLEGE HOOPS ROUNDUP: Auburn men dropped by UF; No. 10 FSU women topple Va. Tech

Photo by Phil Sandlin

Photo by Phil Sandlin

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Erving Walker missed every shot from the field. But he was nearly perfect from the free throw line -- just what Florida needed to avoid a three-game losing streak.

Chandler Parsons scored 17 points, Walker added 14 and the Gators beat Auburn 78-70 Thursday night despite not making a field goal in the final 8:24.

Alex Tyus chipped in 12 points and seven rebounds for Florida, which snapped a two-game losing streak and improved its chances of making the NCAA tournament.

"We know and you guys know where we want to get to, and we couldn't get there without going through tonight," Parsons said. "We looked at it like they were in our way and we had to get them out of there."

Florida (18-8, 7-4 Southeastern Conference) could gain more control of its postseason hopes with wins at Mississippi on Saturday and against No. 20 Tennessee next week.

DeWayne Reed led the Tigers (12-14, 3-8) with 22 points before fouling out with 19.2 seconds remaining. Tay Waller added 13 for Auburn, which missed 22 of 29 shots from 3-point range and fell to 1-5 against the league's Eastern Division.

"The foul shots made the difference in the game," Auburn coach Jeff Lebo said. "That's what it came down to."

Once again, Florida struggled from long range. The Gators were 2-for-10 from behind the arc, but pulled this one out from the charity stripe.

They finished 32-for-40 from the line, including four in a row to close it out. Their final 15 points, all following Vernon Macklin's hook shot in the lane, came from the line.

"It feels good to see a few of them go in there," Parsons said.

All of Walker's points came from the stripe. He was 0-for-6 from the field, but 14-for-16 from the line. The Gators needed every one of them, especially considering they missed 13 in a close loss at South Carolina and missed 11 in a tight game against Xavier.

"We're a good free-throw shooting team," Walker said. "We had two bad games at it, but we know overall we're a good free-throw shooting team, so we just put in extra work before practice and I think it paid off. We've just got to stay focused on that."

Auburn trailed 61-50 with about 9 minutes to play, but Waller got hot from long range and got the Tigers back in it. He three 3-pointers, single-handily cutting the lead to 64-59 with 5:49 remaining.

Reed took over from there, driving to basket and getting to the free throw line. His three-point play and two free throws made it 74-70 with 23 seconds remaining, but the Tigers couldn't get any stops down the stretch.

The Tigers kept fouling, and Florida kept making free throws. The Gators made 15 of 19 in the final 6:28.

Macklin and Erik Murphy scored seven points apiece for Florida, which also got a big lift off the bench from Dan Werner.

Werner had nine points, his most since the SEC opener in early January, and four rebounds. The team's lone senior also grabbed a huge rebound with 1:45 to play, secured several loose balls and stuffed a left-handed jam during a 12-1 run early in the second half.

"I think the unfortunate part for Dan is people do not understand his value and what he brings to the team," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "He's a great kid who loves this school, who works his tail off every single day. ... It was great to see him really play with a lot of energy and fire. Had some success out there and really impacted the game."

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NO. 10 FSU WOMEN 78, VA. TECH 68:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Jacinta Monroe is warming up down the stretch.

The Florida State senior had a season-high 20 points and 11 rebounds Thursday night to lead the 10th-ranked Seminoles to a 78-68 win over Virginia Tech.

"She's really using all her tools right now," Virginia Tech coach Beth Dunkenberger said. "She's tough because she can hit the high-post jumper, she can take you off the bounce and she can really go to the boards."

It was the 6-foot-5 Monroe's third double-double in five games as the Seminoles (23-4, 9-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) stayed within a game of league-leading Duke in their bid for a second straight regular season title.

"I've been playing kind of stagnant throughout the season, and that's my fault," said Monroe, who became the first Seminoles player to record 200 rebounds in four straight seasons. "I've been kind of sitting back and letting things happen. I have to make sure I step up for my teammates and play better basketball, because we need that from everybody."

Florida State has won nine of 10 games since a loss at Miami on Jan. 10. Aside from a 73-43 loss Jan. 29 at Duke, the Seminoles have won by an average of 21.1 points a game.

"When we get comfortable, we're not very good," Florida State coach Sue Semrau said. "We've got to put pressure on ourselves so we don't get comfortable."

Monroe shot 8 for 13 and had five offensive rebounds. Courtney Ward had 14 points, including 4 for 5 on 3-pointers, Cierra Bravard scored 13 points and redshirt freshman Alexa Deluzio had 11.

Deluzio had a spectacular basket where she flipped a shot blindly up over her head after being knocked to the floor.

"She's extremely athletic," Semrau said. "She has a great knack for things."

Lindsay Biggs led Virginia Tech (13-13, 2-9) with 23 points and Porschia Hadley added 15

Dunkenberger's attempts to find the right matchups against the balanced Florida State attack were overcome by the Seminoles' outside shooting.

"We didn't get out on the shooters," Dunkenberger said.

With Ward leading the way, Florida State shot 7 for 14 from long distance.

The Seminoles built their largest lead 6 minutes into the second half at 51-35 on two free throws by Monroe. Virginia Tech pulled to 68-59 with 4:15 left on Biggs' 3, but could get no closer.

Deluzio's 3 with 6 seconds left in the half gave the Seminoles a 32-37 lead at the break.

Biggs and Hadley combined for nine consecutive points as the Hokies tied the score at 18-18 with 5:46 left in the half, but Monroe's layup gave the Seminoles the lead for good.

Florida State shot 44.3 percent and had a 40-28 advantage in rebounds.