Thursday night will mark Gator women’s basketball’s final home game of the regular season. UF is set to host the Georgia Bulldogs, who head into this matchup with a 17-10 record on the year.
Along with playing their final game at the O’Connell Center, Florida will be recognizing redshirt senior Funda Nakkasoglu. The team’s leading scorer talked about how quickly senior night arrived and what it means to her:
Previous battle with Georgia
Facing off against the Bulldogs won’t be a new task for the Gators as they already faced them earlier this month.
In the previous matchup with their upcoming SEC foe, Florida could not secure their first road victory of the season. UF got down by 13 points after the opening quarter and finished the half down 44-27. Georgia put the icing on the cake by outscoring Florida by eight or more points in each of the final two quarters.
The Gators ended up with their second-largest margin of defeat this year (35 points), but there were positive takeaways. For one, Florida knocked down 11 of their 26 three-point attempts, making them 42.3 percent from behind the arc. UF also played stellar perimeter defense, allowing just four triples on 13 shots by the Bulldogs.
Keys to a victory
Nakkasoglu had one of the best quarters of the season in the third period of Florida’s game against Texas A&M on Monday.
During that ten-minute stretch coming out of the half, Nakkasoglu knocked down a trio of three-pointers for the Gators. She also led the team to a 28-point quarter, where she contributed nearly half of the points. Nakkasoglu, who scored just 12 points against UGA on Feb. 10, will need to keep up that production for Florida to have a chance on Thursday.
Heading into the 4th | Texas A&M 59, Florida 45
Gators score 28 third quarter points to cut into the Texas A&M lead. Gators shoot 68.8% in the frame and 5/6 from three-point range. pic.twitter.com/j0WLPg7AY7
— Gators Women’s Basketball (@GatorsWBK) February 26, 2019
Another important phase of the game that UF will need to excel in against Georgia is on the glass. Florida was outrebounded by the Bulldogs 42-25 and gave up 13 offensive rebounds in their previous matchup.
Danielle Rainey, who put up 17 points versus the Aggies this week, talked about what the Gators need to do to be more effective on the boards.
“I think the biggest thing for us is being strong and just being tougher than them,” Rainey said. “They’re a tough team to play against. They have a good coach. I think the biggest thing we’re going to have to do is just box out and beat them with physicality.”
One person capable of dominating on the glass is Delicia Washington, Florida’s leading rebounder at 7.7 rebounds per game. Head coach Cameron Newbauer gave an update on Washington, who was not on UF’s bench on Monday in what was described as “a team matter.”
“Delicia practiced [on Wednesday],” Newbauer said. “I would expect her to be ready for tomorrow.”
Thursday night’s game against the Bulldogs at the O’Connell Center is scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m.
After that matchup, Florida will head to Nashville (Tn.) to take on Vanderbilt this Monday in their final game of the season. They will begin the SEC Tournament on Wednesday, though their seed is not yet determined.