Long-range shooting fires Florida past Bradley

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida coach Billy Donovan knows that the Gators' lack of an inside presence will sometimes make them rely heavily on the 3-point shot.

On Sunday, the Gators made it work.

No. 19 Florida made 14 3-pointers -- including a combined nine by forward Dan Werner and guard Walter Hodge -- and routed visiting Bradley 81-58.

Werner and Hodge each scored 17 points.

"We would have liked to have done a little more in and around the basket, but with the way Bradley played defensively it really opened up for us to shoot the ball," Donovan said. "I think we won the game today because of the 3-point line."

Hodge was 5 of 9, Werner 4 of 6, and sophomore point guard Nick Calathes 3 of 6. Freshman point guard Erving Walker added a pair of 3-pointers for the Gators (2-0).

The 14 3-pointers were the second most Bradley has allowed in school history. Southern Illinois make 15 in an overtime game against the Braves in 1996.

"They're an offensive rhythm team that once they get going and you keep giving them a steady diet of the same look, they're going to make you pay," Bradley coach Jim Les said.

The Gators' outside shooting hurt the Braves (1-1) all game.

Bradley had cut Florida's 17-point lead to nine points, 54-45, with 12:12 remaining, but Calathes got it back to double digits with a layup with 10:49 to play.

Then the Gators got hot from the outside. Their last seven field goals were from 3-point range, and Florida went 7-for-10 from long range during that span. Walker, Hodge and Werner made two each and Calathes added one.

Hodge made his in a 40-second span that gave the Gators a 79-58 lead with 52 seconds to play.

"I thought everybody did a good job of finding Dan and I for open shots," Hodge said.

Werner said he's feeling more confident in his shot than at any time during his Florida career.

"This whole time I'm feeling confident in my shot," he said. "My teammates are confident. I'm just letting it fly."

So did Bradley, but the Braves didn't have near the success Florida did.

Bradley has been one of the nation's top 3-point shooting teams over the past two seasons. The Braves made 695 threes in 2006-07 and 2007-08, the third-highest total nationally behind VMI (778) and Houston (705) during that span.

They struggled from long range in their season opener, making only 4-of-21 3-pointers in a 67-61 victory over Illinois-Chicago last Friday night, and made only 7-of-24 threes against Florida.

Since missing their first eight 3-point attempts in Friday's victory over Toledo, the Gators are 21 of 43 (48.9 percent) from long range.

Florida will play host to Southern Utah on Thursday before traveling to Kansas City for the semifinals of the O'Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic next weekend.