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Dominant Performance From Gator Women’s Basketball Leads to First SEC Win

After five tough losses to start SEC play, the Florida Gator women’s basketball team finally captured its first SEC win of the season. The Gators were in full control, led the entire game, and even boasted a lead as large as 18 points. Florida took advantage of mismatches inside to dominate on the glass and in the paint. Arkansas made things interesting in the fourth, cutting Florida’s lead to 8 with 3:12 left. The Gators stayed the course and sealed the 65-51 win over the Razorbacks.

Taking Advantage of Mismatches

Coming into this game, the expectation was that the three-point shot would play a key role. This expectation seemed like a sure thing, being that the Gators and Razorbacks are the top two teams in the SEC in threes made per game. The three-point shot wasn’t the main reason for Florida capturing its first conference win of the season though. It was the play of their starting senior forwards, Paulina Hersler and Haley Lorenzen. The two 6’3” forwards took full advantage of the size mismatches inside.

Hersler finished the game with 19 points, tying a career high. She also did damage from three, going 3-5 from beyond the arc. Lorenzen did her damage close to the rim. She finished with her 10th double-double of the season, 12 points and 10 rebounds. In the second half, the Razorbacks tried to double team Lorenzen to neutralize the mismatch. Gators head coach Cam Newbauer said they tried to test Arkansas early by attacking inside. This only led to Lorenzen’s teammates to get quality looks close to the bucket. Florida sophomore guard Delicia Washington finished with 14 points and 9 rebounds.

As a team, the Gators imposed their will on the glass. Florida outrebounded the Razorbacks 54-42. The Gators really hustled on the boards. Multiple Gators were diving after lose balls and getting into tie-ups to get jump ball calls.

Keeping The Foot On The Gas

The will and determination from the Gators to snap the five game losing streak was evident from the start. The Gators stormed out of the gates. The game was tied for only 23 seconds before Delicia Washington knocked down a jumper to give Florida a 2-0 lead. This shot would give Florida the lead for good and started a 9-0 run in the game’s first few minutes. The Gators ended the first with a three-pointer from sophomore guard Sydney Searcy to extend the lead to 5. In the first five minutes of the second quarter, a 10-2 Florida run extended the Gator lead to 13. Before the buzzer sounded on a strong first half for the Gators, Hersler knocked down a three from the top of the key. This put the Gators up 35-28 going into the half.

In the third quarter against the Razorbacks, the Gators avoided history repeating itself in a major way. Florida was on the giving end of the third quarter dominance on Thursday. The Gators opened the quarter on a 10-0 run, sparked by two threes back-to-back from Hersler and senior guard Dee Anderson. In the third quarter, the Gators outscored the Razorbacks 18-7 in the third quarter. Newbauer said he was proud the team kept the foot on the gas in the third quarter. 

Full 40 Minutes

The team has been striving towards a full 40 minute performance. The team got very close to that in their first SEC win of the Cam Newbauer era. Florida was able to run its offense at the pace it wanted to for the majority of the game.  The Gators didn’t turn the ball over much. Going into the fourth quarter, Florida had 7 turnovers for the game. The team had 5 in the final quarter. The Gator defense had a different approach to dealing with a star shooter, Malica Monk. They opted to shutdown her supporting cast. Monk finished with 23 of Arkansas’ 51 points. After capturing his first SEC win as head coach of the Gators, Newbauer said he was thrilled for his team because how hard they work to get the win. 

What’s Next?

The Gators look to win back-to-back games for the first time since December 21 and 27 as they host Ole Miss Sunday. Florida look to avenge the double-overtime loss they suffered to the Rebels two weeks ago. The Gators and Rebels will tip things off from Exactech Arena Sunday at 1 p.m.

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