Gator women’s basketball currently holds a 6-22 record, but the team can still finish the season off on a high note.
On Sunday, the team will be in Nashville to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores in their final game of the regular season. After that game concludes, UF will travel to South Carolina in preparation for the SEC Tournament, which begins on Wednesday.
Head coach Cameron Newbauer recently spoke about the importance of taking one game at a time:
“We always talk about what’s next and staying in the present moment,” Newbauer said. “It’s either present or next; not tomorrow. When I say next, I mean the next possession. Not the next day, not the next week.”
Not overlooking Vandy
Although their game against the Commodores won’t dramatically affect their record, Sunday’s matchup has important implications.
Florida’s battle with Vanderbilt (7-21) will determine which school ends up with the 13th or 14th seed in the SEC Tournament.
Funda Nakkasoglu, who leads the Gators in scoring this season, stressed the need to be locked in on the road. Citing the Commodores’ 76-69 road win against the Lady Vols this week, the redshirt senior wants her group to show a different side of themselves on Sunday.
“We can’t overlook anyone in the SEC. We know that by now,” Nakkasoglu said. “And Vanderbilt just beat Tennessee, so they’re looking confident and they’re looking good. We need to try to come in and do some new things.”
Emphasis on the defensive end
As Nakkasoglu mentioned, Vanderbilt has some momentum heading into their matchup. On Thursday, for the first time in program history, the Commodores secured a road victory against Tennessee.
— Vanderbilt Women's Basketball (@VandyWBB) March 1, 2019
One of the biggest contributors for Vanderbilt in their upset was the play of redshirt junior Mariella Fasoula. The 6-foot-5 forward poured in 19 points and added nine rebounds to her impressive night.
On the season, Fasoula is averaging 16.5 points per game on 55 percent shooting from the field and is collecting 7.2 rebounds a contest. Although Florida does not have a lot of size inside, limiting Fasoula’s production will be a key component to a potential victory.
Vanderbilt’s year hasn’t produced a high number in the win column, but the team has been effective shooting the ball. The Commodores are knocking down 43.3 percent of their shot attempts and make just about 34 percent of their three-pointers. UF will also look to avoid sending them to the foul line as the team is shooting 70 percent on free throws this season.
A win versus Vanderbilt would pit Florida against Ole Miss in the opening game of the SEC Tournament. A loss on Sunday, however, would put the Gators in their third matchup with Alabama. Florida is 1-1 against the Crimson Tide on the season.
Either way, UF will open up play in the tournament in Greenville (S.C.) starting on Wednesday.