During the course of non-conference play, improving on their mistakes was priority number one for the Florida women’s basketball team. The reason behind this was so the team would be ready to go come SEC play. Through the first seven minutes of the conference opener against Auburn, it looked like the plan worked. In the second half, all the strong play was diminished, leading to a shocking 84-55 loss to Auburn.
Strong Start, Terrible Finish
Coming into this season’s SEC opener, the Gators haven’t won the start of SEC play in three years. Once the Gators and Tigers tipped off Sunday afternoon, it looked as if this season would be different. The Gators got off to a fast start, leading 18-2 with 3:19 left in the first quarter. The Gators shot 48% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc in the first half. Florida boasted a 36-35 lead at the midway point.
The Gators were hanging around in the third quarter, even though they came out slowly out of halftime. Then, in the fourth quarter, the wheels fell off completely. The Gators were shut down offensively as Auburn outscored Florida 30-4 in the final 10 minutes, propelling the Tigers to their fourth win in five meetings with the Gators.
Old Problems Now Become Major Concerns
In the 2017 part of the season, turnovers have been a headache for the Gators. Hopefully, the tendency to turn the ball over will be left in 2017 as the year changes because it hurt the Gators against Auburn. In Sunday’s loss, the Gators turned the ball over 28 times, the most in any Gator loss this season. Auburn capitalized on these mistakes and turned them into 33 points. The Gators couldn’t duplicate the defensive tenacity of the Tigers in creating turnovers. Auburn turned the ball over only five times leading to only two Gator points.
After a historic rebounding performance, the Gators looked like they were turning a corner in that department. The Gators did manage to pull down a respectable 37 boards in the loss. However, they allowed Auburn to total 24 offensive rebounds and the Tigers turned these into 19 second chance points. The Gators have allowed their opponents to get second and third chances and it has hurt them throughout the season.
While the temperature dropped to record lows throughout the country, the Auburn Tigers brought the heat on the defensive side against Florida. Auburn did so by exploiting a flaw in the Gator offense that many teams have tried to do. The Gators have experienced trouble since the season opener when defenses resort to a full-court press. Auburn succeeded in slowing down the Gator offense, even stopping them entirely before crossing half court.
McKay Makes Hometown Team Pay
Former Gainesville High guard Janiah McKay might have been playing her hometown team, but there was no mercy from McKay. McKay dominated the Gators by leading the Tigers in scoring with 25 points, shooting 9 of 21 from the field. She also got her teammates involved by leading the team in assists with five. For the Gators, guard Funda Nakkasoglu led the team with 15 points and forward Paulina Hersler finished with 12 points.
The Gators will try to bounce back when they return to action Thursday. Florida returns to Exactech Arena for their SEC home opener against Alabama at 7:00 p.m.