The Florida women’s basketball team moved to 9-9 on the season after losing 62-56 to the 10th ranked Kentucky Wildcats (15-3) on Thursday night in Lexington. The Gators have now lost three games in a row and are currently 1-4 in SEC play.
Despite their inconsistency on offense throughout the season, the Gators managed to keep up with the Wildcats and hold their own against them for most of the game. Florida held Kentucky to just 37 percent shooting from the field in the first half and were down by just one point going into halftime.
The Gators remained competitive in the second half but could only watch in despair as the Wildcats slowly pulled away in the last five minutes of the game. Kentucky’s leading scorer for the season, guard Jennifer O’Neill, helped her team surge toward the win when she hit a 3-point shot near the four minute mark that would put the game out of reach for good.
Although it might be easy to just say that the Gators lost the game in the last few minutes of the game, statistics prove that their excessive turnovers both early and late in the game ultimately cost them this win. Florida had a total of 27 turnovers, 16 in the first half and 11 in the second half. The Wildcats eventually scored 21 points off of those turnovers. Gator head coach Amanda Butler says Kentucky accomplished what they set out to do.
“Had too many turnovers…some things that just are unfortunate, but that’s just…when you’re playing against a great team on their home court, and that’s what they do, that’s what they’re gonna try to do is turn you over and they capitalized.”
Besides their turnovers, the play of Kentucky guard Makayla Epps was another reason why the Gators could never really gain full control of the game. Epps scored 20 points, grabbed five rebounds, and dished out four assists.
“She just kind of does a little bit of everything for them, she is the epitome of a utility man,” said Butler. “She does a great job of, I think, setting the tone for them and the tempo that they want. And she went 8 for 8 at the free throw line, which was obviously very big.”
Despite this tough loss, Butler says there are still some positives from this game that the team can build on.
“You know, I think there was not just one thing. And certainly, you can’t just look down the stretch, you’ve got to look at the game in its entirety and some of the decisions that we made throughout the game. The thing that were gonna dwell on is that we played exceptionally hard. We outrebounded them and hopefully when we go into our next match up, we’ll be at full strength.”
The Gators will now prepare to face off against the number one ranked South Carolina Gamecocks next on Monday night in the O’Connell Center.
Tip-off is set for 7 pm, but you can catch live coverage of the game on ESPN 850 WRUF starting at 6:45.