An hour before tip-off on Sunday’s tilt between No.23 Florida and North Carolina AT&T, stunning news broke — Eleanna Christinaki, the team’s most productive scorer, quit the team.
The sophomore guard, along with freshman Delicia Washington, was given a first-half suspension by head coach Amanda Butler for “some behavior that is not becoming of a Gator and not part of our culture,” Butler said. Washington accepted the benching, but Christinaki did not, opting instead to quit the team. She is not listed on the roster and the team scrubbed her bio from the team website.
The guard averaged a team-high 17.6 points per game and also led in minutes played and 3-point field goals. She was part of the SEC All-Freshman team last season and a big reason why Florida is currently ranked. The Greece native, who’s expressed homesickness, is likely to head back home where she used to play for the national team, according to reporter Scott Carter.
With or Without You
The team, playing with eight active members, still manhandled the Aggies 67-38 in Panama City, Florida. Unable to dish it to Christinaki, the team went for a balanced attack, with seven Gators scoring at least eight points led by Brooke Copeland’s 13.
“Our team handled that just with I thought a great deal of pride, a great deal of grade, a great deal of effort and energy,” Butler said after the win. “I loved the response. I loved the energy. I loved the way they came out and played for each other.”
Fourth Quarter Blitz
After two quarters it was still a close game. The Aggies, who were 1-6 entering the game, were down only 23-20. But after the 15-minute break, and armed with Washington who served her first-half benching, the team broke out. In the final quarter, Florida scored 23 points to the Aggies’ two to cap the 67-38 win. Washington scored 10 points and had four boards.
Florida improved to 7-3. The team takes a break for final exams and then returns to the hardwood on Dec.20 for the Florida Sunshine Classic in Winter Park, Florida. They play Indiana and then Florida A&M the following day.
On Dec.28, they play their first game in the newly renovated Exactech Arena at the O’Connell Center against Southeastern Louisiana.