At the buzzer, The Gators had enough chomp to defeat 12th ranked Kentucky, 85-79.
The Kentucky Wildcats won the opening tip-off, but that’s about the only battle they won the entire game. Florida started off in a zone-defense and it created ongoing struggles for Kentucky. The Wildcats walked out of the O’dome with 30 turnovers. You could say the Gators’ defense had an extra chomp to it. Amanda Butler says forcing 30 turnovers against a team like Kentucky isn’t easy.
Because of numerous defensive stops, Florida’s offense began to heat up and dish out points. With Haley Lorenzen converting jumpers and Eleanna Christinaki orchestrating beautiful passes, at one point, the Gators had a 10 point lead over the Wildcats. Until the Wildcats found some momentum and clawed their way back. Both teams headed into the locker room with sweat dripping down from their faces and with an endless amount of emotion. The Gators had the upper hand though because post-player Carla Batchelor stepped outside of the box and knocked a three-point shot right before time expired. At the half, the Gators lead the Wildcats, 43-39.
The Rowdy Reptiles in the O’Dome may have found another favorite Gator to watch. Florida’s Simone Westbrook acted as an energy-saver for the Gators. Westbrook complied 20 points after shooting seven-for-ten, including three three-pointers from downtown. At one point Westbrook swatted the ball away from Kentucky, coasted down the court with the Gators offense and was left open from behind the perimeter. With a nice form and a spectacular spin on the ball, it made for a nice shot right in front of press-row and left the Gators’ jaw wide-open.
Kentucky’s guard Makayla Epps racked up 27 points. Her continuous composure and vocal leadership kept the Wildcats prowling after the Gators. Janee Thompson was also grinding out the gears for Kentucky when she would drive down the lane and split up the Gator traffic. Thompson concluded her night with 17 points and eventually would foul out of the game. Amanda Butler says they anticipated Epps having a spectacular game.
The third quarter has been a reoccurring problem for Florida over the last couple of games, but this was a different ball game. The Gators outscored Kentucky in the third quarter, 20-15 making it their second highest shooting percent of the game at 56.3 percent. Haley Lorenzen had a big part in that when she finished with 18 points. Head coach Amanda Butler says the teams’ shot selection is the reason for success in this game.
For most of the season, the fourth quarter has been Florida’s best quarter and this was no different. The Gators shot ten-for-thirteen and held on to upset 12th ranked Kentucky. The Wildcats made an impressive comeback and tried to fry out hot Florida, but Kentucky was left fried and defeated.
This is the tenth matchup between Florida and Kentucky that has gone down to the wire.
The Gators took down the 12th ranked Wildcats, 85-79 and solidified their reason for being nationally ranked a few weeks ago.