Wednesday night’s game between Florida women’s basketball team and Northeastern will feature teams on two completely different paths.
On one side, the Northeastern Huskies have put together a five-game win streak to start their 2018-2019 campaign. On the other side, the Gators are currently 0-5 and have lost eight straight games dating back to last season.
Gator coach Cameron Newbauer spoke about what his team needs to do to snap their losing streak.
“First and foremost, we have to score one more point than them,” Newbauer said. “With them being such a tough defensive team, you got to really play together and share the ball. You got to try to exploit some of their weaknesses.”
Bouncing back from their last loss
Last week, Florida suffered its largest margin of defeat of its short season.
After being down by just six points at halftime to Indiana, the Gators ended up losing by 19 to the Hoosiers. They allowed Indiana to shoot over 50 percent from the field and a staggering 62 percent from behind the arc. Funda Nakkasoglu, Florida’s leading scorer, was held to just five points and attempted a season-low eight shots.
Although the Gators did not win the game, there were some positives that the team took away from the loss. Junior Delicia Washington had her second-highest scoring night of the season after pouring in 22 points and recording seven rebounds. As a team, Florida had 14 assists on their 26 made shots and held a first quarter lead for the fourth time in their five games played.
Final | Indiana 83, Florida 64. Washington finishes with a game-high 22 points & Gators register season-high 14 assists in Wednesday’s matinee matchup with Hoosiers. pic.twitter.com/tVxs08GbtY
— Gators Women’s Basketball (@GatorsWBK) November 21, 2018
Looking to the leaders
The play of Florida’s upperclassmen will be crucial to the team’s game against Northeastern.
The trio of Zada Williams, Nakkasoglu and Washington are the Gators’ top three scorers this season. They are all top four in the team in terms of field goal percentage, while Washington and Williams average 12 rebounds a game between the two of them.
Florida’s closest loss this year could provide a blueprint for a victory against the Huskies. Against Gardner-Webb, the Gators received 48 of their 58 points from the trio. They shot an efficient 57 percent from the floor and collected 20 boards.
Kristina Moore also talked about the importance of receiving production from the upperclassmen. The freshman said that along with following their lead, the Gators need to be in a position to not put too much burden on their experienced players:
“I definitely think looking at the older girls in the program is important,” Moore said. “But I think we’re at that point where we can’t rely on them too much. We need to all work together as a team and hold each other accountable for everything.”
For Newbauer, having the right mentality on the court is something he wants to see from all his players. The second-year coach pointed to Washington as someone the rest of his group can look up to:
“[She’s] just playing with such a fierce competitiveness and wanting to be great and wanting Florida to be great,” Newbauer said of Washington. “That’s infectious. Just trying to get that to carry over into everybody else every single day at practice to where that’s a habit of attitude and effort.”
Limiting the Huskies
While Florida has two players averaging more than 19 points per game (Nakkasoglu and Washington), Northeastern has only one person averaging more than 11 per game, Jess Genco.
The senior point guard is putting up 16 points a night and is shooting an impressive 95 percent from the free throw line. Genco’s biggest problem is that her field goal percentage is 39 percent and she is making only 25 percent of her three pointers.
Newbauer said finding a way to stop Genco will be a focus for his group when they take on the Huskies.
“[Genco] is tremendous,” Newbauer said. “She’s your consummate floor general who can really direct traffic, score, share it. Has a great defensive prowess and is a leader through and through… [she’s] fun to watch. Not sure how excited I am to play against her, but we welcome the challenge and we’ll see what we can do.”
Another key area of the game for the Gators will be to have the edge on the glass. Northeastern is collecting 42 boards per game while Florida is averaging just under 36 rebounds per game.
One of the reasons why this could have an impact on the game is due to the number of second-chance opportunities the Huskies create. They have 66 total offensive rebounds as a team this year, which is 14 more than the Gators have.
STATS | @GoNUwbasketball (5-0) is riding its first five-game winning streak since the 2015-16 season.
The #HowlinHuskies have won their first five games by an average of 13.4 points per outing.
Bring on the Gators! pic.twitter.com/0mmpc1HWBa
— Northeastern WBB (@GoNUwbasketball) November 24, 2018
Wednesday’s game against Northeastern kicks off a four-game homestand for the Gators. This will be the third straight game Florida has faced an opponent that is undefeated coming into the game.
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.