The Florida women’s basketball team took care of business in the opening round of the SEC Tournament.
An efficient third quarter against Ole Miss on Wednesday propelled UF to head coach Cameron Newbauer’s first SEC Tournament win of his career. Now, the Gators will have a quick turnaround and are set to take on the Missouri Tigers today in the second round of the SEC Tournament. UF beat Missouri at home in their only regular season match up back in January.
Thursday’s game between Florida and Missouri is scheduled to tip off at 2:30 p.m.
First round recap
In their opener against the Rebels, the Gators struggled to get any shot to go down in the first half.
Florida knocked down only 7 of their 31 attempts from the field in the first 20 minutes. They made just 2 of 15 shots in the second frame and UF connected on one three-pointer in the half. More importantly, the team received zero points from leading scorer Funda Nakkasoglu in the first two quarters.
After entering the second half tied 18-18, Florida turned up the heat with their season on the line. Newbauer’s group bounced back with solid shooting in the third quarter, where they scored 25 points. On the other end, the Gators held Ole Miss to 14 points on 25 percent shooting from the field.
Nakkasoglu and Delicia Washington stepped up in the second half. The pair combined for 30 points on 10 of 15 shooting and knocked down four 3 pointers for the Gators during this stretch.
Previous match up against the Tigers
Florida heads into the next round having momentum after back-to-back victories against Vanderbilt and Ole Miss. The team should also feel confident as they have already proven themselves capable of beating Missouri.
In the first half of their January match up, however, the Gators got off to a slow start. Missouri spread the wealth with 11 assists and scored 30 points on 43 percent shooting heading into halftime. Florida, on the other hand, had just 21 points on 8 of 23 shooting from the field.
An even third quarter saw UF down 45-36 heading into the final frame, but the team mounted an impressive comeback. Florida made three shots from behind the arc in the fourth quarter, including two from Danielle Rainey. After a pair of free throws by Kiara Smith that tied the game with less than a minute to go, Washington sealed it with a game-winning layup.
The Gators did a couple of things well in this victory against the Tigers. For one, Florida allowed Missouri to go to the line just three times. On the season, the Tigers attempt 16.2 free throws per game and converted on 73 percent of those opportunities.
Another thing the team did well was hold Sophie Cunningham and Amber Smith to just 13 points, even though the pair of teammates averaged a combined 29.7 points per game in the regular season. UF will try to duplicate these successes in order to advance to the next round of the tournament.
If Florida is able to secure their second win of the season against Missouri, then they will be matched up with Kentucky on Friday. The Gators lost to the Wildcats 62-51 on the road last month.