The Gator women’s basketball team is set to face Ball State tonight at 7; this will be the first meeting between Florida and Ball State on the hardwood.
After cruising past Savannah State on Tuesday, the Gators took flight and traveled 1,481 miles west to Boulder, Colorado where they will compete in the 29th Omni Hotels Classic, hosted by the University of Colorado.
Florida is chomping into this tournament with a record of three wins and one loss. It’s noteworthy that their one loss came from Temple, which was on the road, but this time around on the road, the Gators seem to have found a spark on defense. Against Savannah State, Florida’s 22 steals were the most by an SEC team in a single game this season. The Gators forced six quick turnovers in the first three minutes of the game, which allowed them to rack up points and go on a 12-1 run. An early dominating defense gave the Gators a 15-3 lead, and they never looked back.
Every Gator was on a roll, which led to every Gator scoring once they entered the game. Big performances by junior guard/forward Ronni Williams, senior guard January Miller, and senior guard Carlie Needles created an opportunity to top Savannah State 99-34.
Ball State is 2-1 on the season. The Cardinals recently had a dominating victory, as well, when they defeated Austin Peay 72-44. Ball State’s leading scorer was sophomore forward Moriah Monaco. Monaco collected 16 points and like the Gators, every Cardinal that entered the game, scored and contributed to the victory. The Cardinals are led by head coach Brady Sallee who started in 2012 with the program and has seen it rise ever since. Sallee is the only coach in program history to march the Cardinals to three straight post-season Women’s National Invitation Tournaments.
Tonight’s game will be the second of a four-game run Florida will play in eight days and in three different states.
The Gators did not miss out on their Thanksgiving turkey. Carlie Needles is from Highlands Ranch, Colorado, which is approximately 46 miles from Boulder. This allowed the Needles family to host Thanksgiving dinner for the Gators and allows Carlie to play collegiately in front of her hometown family and friends for the first time.
A win tonight would place Florida in the championship game.