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Seminoles nip Gators to avoid losing third straight

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Cierra Bravard's two free throws with 30 seconds left lifted Florida State (No. 23 ESPN/USA Today, No. 25 AP) to a 74-72 victory over Florida on Tuesday.

Bravard, Florida State's scoring leader, finished with 10 points. Her three-point play less than a minute earlier gave the Seminoles (10-3) a short-lived 71-70 lead.

Jaterra Bonds driving jumper gave the Gators a 72-71 lead.

Courtney Ward scored 20 points, including a final free throw with a tenth of a second left, and freshman Natasha Howard added 17 points and 10 rebounds for her second career double-double for the Seminoles, who narrowly avoided losing three straight games for the first time since the 2003-04 season.

Jordan Jones hit 4-of-6 3-pointers to lead Florida (10-4) with 14 points. Bonds added 11 points and a game high seven assists and Deana Allen finished with 10.

Christian Hunnicutt's steal and layup gave the Seminoles a 39-37 halftime lead. There were seven ties and five lead changes in the first half.

The Gators jumped to an early 10-3 lead, but Florida State took the lead at 19-16 on Bravard's three-point play and the Seminoles opened their biggest lead of the half at 33-27 on Alexa Deluzio's 3-point basket. Deluzio also finished in double figures with 10 points.

The Seminoles opened a 51-41 lead on Bravard's jumper with 17:12 left, but Florida went on 20-5 run and went up 61-56 midway through the second half.

Florida got back into the game by dominating the boards in the second half and finished with a 39-31 rebound advantage.

Florida State was coming off successive losses for the first time in two years. It was their first game since a loss at UConn last week, when the Huskies recorded an NCAA-record 89th straight victory with a 93-62 win.