On Sunday, the Florida Gators women’s basketball team played a road game for the first time since November 21st. The Gators marched into their away matchup with Ohio State on a three-game winning streak.
Along with having confidence from their recent success, Florida welcomed back Funda Nakkasoglu. The redshirt senior, who is the team’s leading scorer, missed the last two games due to a right ankle sprain.
Even though their defense on the Buckeyes was stellar, the Gators ended up dropping to 3-7 on the season after losing 46-41. Head coach Cameron Newbauer said his group ultimately lost due to their inability to score on the other end:
“We really stuck to the game plan, I mean if you were to tell me we held a team to 46 points and lost, I would say you’re crazy,” Newbauer said. “We stuck to it, but ultimately just couldn’t knock down enough shots to get it done today. We have to keep fighting and continue to get better each possessions.”
Starting off on the right foot
Florida was not offensively efficient in the first half, but they made up for it with lockdown defense. Ohio State went 7 for 30 from the field and 0 for 11 from behind the arc during this stretch. They also had eight turnovers and shot just 50 percent at the free throw line.
The Gators jumped out to a 25-18 lead after two quarters because of their effectiveness from the three-point line. UF only shot 31.3 percent overall in the half, but they made 5 three-pointers to make up for their poor shooting.
In her return, Nakkasoglu knocked down a triple and a layup, but was only 2 for 8 from the field in the half. Ariel Johnson continued to show how dangerous of an offensive weapon she has become. The freshman made all three of her shots and led the team with 8 points.
Unable to close the game out
The Gators were able to stretch their lead to 9 points in the third quarter, but the Buckeyes sliced their deficit to 5 heading into the final period. Florida also held a 41-40 lead with just over three minutes left to play in the game.
Down the stretch, however, Ohio State played well on both ends of the court with the game on the line. They forced five turnovers by the Gators in the fourth quarter and did not allow them to connect on their final five three-pointers.
More importantly, the Buckeyes went on a 8-0 run in the last five minutes of play. Carly Santaro only had 6 points total by the time Ohio State secured the victory, but 4 of them came during this run.
Overall, Florida struggled to put the ball through the net in the second half. Only two players, Nakkasoglu (9) and Delicia Washington (6), scored more than 2 points for the Gators in the half. As a whole, the team went 4 for 25 from the field and just 2 for 10 from the three-point line.
Although the Buckeyes did not finish the game with a great shooting percentage, Newbauer cited their dominance on the boards as one of the reasons why his team lost:
“They had 17 offensive rebounds,” Newbauer said of Ohio State. “We knew we wanted to back off and make them shoot jump shots from the perimeter, that’s why they were 1-of-19 from three, but when you give up that many offensive rebounds and they can get 13 second chance points, that’s the game.”
Florida will be on the road again over the next couple of games.
The Gators will be in Las Vegas, Nevada, for the Duel in the Desert tournament later this week. They will play Utah on Thursday and UNLV or Hawaii on Friday.
Quotes courtesy of the University Athletic Association