GAINESVILLE, FL— Thursday night Rowdy Reptiles and dedicated fans, wearing orange and blue, all stood to give the Florida women’s basketball team a chomp as it defeated Alabama 80-72. The 22nd ranked Gators now own a six game winning streak over the Crimson Tide after pulling out a close one in the O’Dome.
Early on Florida has the advantage, leading after the first quarter 23-12. Florida’s Simone Westbrook was added to the starting lineup once again and tonight she was a huge asset for the Gators. Westbrook knocked down back-to-back three-pointers in the first quarter to help UF build its lead. Westbrook did not only contribute on offensive side of the ball but also the defensive side; ranked second in the SEC in steals, Westbrook was excellent in that department. Florida coach Amanda Butler says Simone’s defensive effort gives the team incredible energy.
The Gators owned the first half, but in the second half the Crimson Tide rolled out some energy and made things interesting.
Alabama’s Meoshonti Knight help stage the Crimson Tide’s run for a comeback. She compiled 23 points and six steals. If Knights’ shooting frenzy wasn’t enough to get your attention, Alabama got the crowd’s attention in the quarter hitting 11 of 17 shots, firing up the roughly 15 Crimson Tide fans in the stands.
Helping Alabama get back in the game was a Florida team that committed a whopping 36 turnovers. Despite that high number, Florida was able to get the win and Amanda Butler gives credit to the Gators overcoming so many turnovers.
It was a tie ball game to start the fourth quarter and the quarter did not start out well for Florida. The Gators continued to have miscues and inaccurate shooting which led to Alabama capitalizing on the other end. Four minutes left in the game and Alabama had a 69-68 lead. It seemed as if the Crimson Tide was en route to rolling out with a victory.
But Florida caught fire, going on a 15-0 run led by freshman sensation Eleanna Christinaki who ended as the team’s leading scorer on the night with 16 points and four assists. Christinaki’s no-look passes assisted the Gators with staging their fourth quarter rally as well.
At the buzzer, Florida defeated Alabama 80-72 and sent the Crimson Tide back to their sweet home in Alabama. Next up for the Gators (4-2 SEC) is a road game at Missouri Sunday.