GAINESVILLE, Fla— In a game that kept the crowd on the edge of their seats, the Florida women’s basketball team defeated the 12th ranked Texas A&M Aggies 83-81 in the O’Connell Center Thursday night.
Both teams traded baskets and momentum throughout the first half. After Florida stormed down the court and penetrated to the basket for a nice lay-up, Texas A&M was pushing up the court to capitalize off of a nice jump-shot.
In the first half, Florida was occupied by trying to keep track of Texas A&M’s sharp shooters and trying to find a way to produce on offense. A&M’s Courtney Walker did not make that an easy task for the Gators. Walker concluded her night by scoring 31 points. It seemed as if Texas A&M was about to take the lead and completely run away with it, until Florida heated up. Florida’s head coach, Amanda Butler, says that Walker is simply amazing.
At halftime, the Gators were trailing the Aggies, 36-31.
Statistically, Florida’s offense hasn’t been the best in the third quarter, but tonight was a different ballgame.
The Gators’ Dyandria Anderson got a hot hand in the third quarter. Anderson charged up the court and forced herself to become open to knock down back-to-back three-pointers as she finished with a total of 12 points and three rebounds. Anderson’s shooting frenzy gave Florida the spark it was looking for and triggered the rest of the Gators to add an extra bite to their chomp.
It seemed as if Amanda Butler was holding up a thermometer as motivation for Florida because her Gators were rapidly heating up with every possession. Simone Westbrook has been a surge of energy for Florida and she was no different in this game. Westbrook slung her body from East to West and dominated on defense when it mattered the most. But with time winding down in the third quarter, she launched off a perfectly spiraling ball, with the perfect form from behind the arc to beat the buzzer. Behind Ronni Williams, Westbrook was the second leading scorer for the Gators with 15 points.
Florida shot 11-for-22 and outscored Texas A&M in the third quarter 34-24.
Florida’s hot streak carried over to the fourth quarter, but the Aggies didn’t let the Gators get too far out of their sight. With about four minutes left in the game, Florida and Texas A&M were all tied up at 79 points apiece. Both team were showing off their aggressiveness and pride in the home stretch, but Florida’s execution was a little more accurate.
The Gators’ Ronni Williams’ 20 points and 15 rebounds almost wasn’t enough because with less than 10 seconds left on the clock and the score at 83-81, the Aggies had the ball with intentions of retaking the lead. A missed layup by Texas A&M secured the Florida win.
At the final buzzer, Williams earned her 5ooth-career rebound and Florida defeated Texas A&M for the first time in their five-game series.
After defeating another 12th ranked team, Florida is proving they are a team to be reckoned with and now, after a bye, it must travel next Thursday to face second ranked South Carolina.