Mar 4, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Florida Gators head coach Amanda Butler talks to her team during a timeout in the third quarter during the women's SEC basketball tournament at Jacksonville Memorial Veterans Arena. Kentucky won 92-69. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Florida Women’s Basketball Falls in a Close One at Tennessee 74-70

Tennessee used a 13-2 run over the last 2:57 of the fourth quarter to come from behind and beat the Florida women’s basketball team 74-70 on Thursday night in Knoxville. The loss, the second one to Tennessee this season, drops the Gators to 13-15 and 4-11 in the SEC with just one game left in the regular season. The Lady Vols, meanwhile, improve to 18-10 and 9-6 in the SEC after earning the win on their Senior Night.


Three players for Tennessee scored over 15 points. Mercedes Russell, Tennessee’s star center, had a bigger impact in this one than in the last contest. She put up a double-double, scoring 17 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Alexa Middleton knocked down three treys on her way to 15 points. Diamond DeShields, who went off for 27 points when the two teams played in January, also finished with 15 points, including going 7-for-7 from the free throw line.

That was the one big area in which the Gators were dominated. They committed 22 fouls compared to Tennessee’s eight, leading to a big disparity in free-throw attempts. The Lady Vols went 20-28 from the charity stripe, while the Gators only made four of six attempts. This statistical difference helped Tennessee hang around and come back, despite the fact they led for less than 10 minutes of the game.

For Florida, Ronni Williams was the leader just like the last time the two teams played. She dropped 31 points on Tennessee in January. In this one, she put up 22 points and nine rebounds before fouling out with 1:37 left in the game. Delicia Washington continued her impressive freshman year, scoring 15 points to go along with six rebounds and four assists.

First Half

It was a game of runs, as basketball often is, and the Gators jumped out of the gates on an 8-0 one to start the game, which included two Williams layups.

Tennessee eventually woke up, but Florida held firm in the opening 10 minutes, heading into the second quarter with a 22-13 on the road.

The Lady Vols promptly went on a 16-6 run to start the second quarter, giving them their first lead of the game at 29-28, and led the rest of the quarter, entering halftime with a 35-32 lead.

The shooting percentages in each of the first two quarters were almost mirror images. Florida shot 52.4% in the first quarter, before struggling to the tune of 25% in the second quarter. Tennessee struggled with an energized Florida defense in the first quarter, shooting only 26.7% before answering back in the second quarter by shooting 56.3%.

Second Half

The third quarter was neck-and-neck between the two teams, with the Lady Vols only taking a two point lead in the final quarter.

Florida started the fourth quarter promising, and seemed like they might get a huge road win. A 14-5 run that included three-pointers from Dyandria Anderson and Haley Lorenzen gave the Gators a 68-61 lead with under four minutes to go.

And then Tennessee came back.

The Lady Vols ended the game on the most important run of the night, a 13-2 run the rest of the way to assure them the victory.  They scored seven of those points from the free-throw line, where they hurt the Gators all day, and they ended up with the 74-70 victory.

Florida ended the game outscoring Tennessee 46-38 in the paint, but were outscored by 16 from the free-throw line and by nine in fast break, two marks that aren’t conducive to teams winning on the road.

Next Up

Florida ends it’s regular season on Sunday when they host Georgia for Senior Day. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m.

About Jonathan Acosta

Native New Englander. Follow me on Twitter: @jonacosta_10

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