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Another Strong Performance Not Enough For Gator Women’s Basketball As They Drop Sixth Straight

The Florida women’s basketball team did everything it needed to do Thursday night to pull off the upset win over 17th ranked Texas A&M and secure the team’s first win over a ranked opponent for the season. The Gators shot double-digit 3 pointers, limited mistakes and hustled on the boards. It appeared as if Florida was going to get a much-needed win on the road.

Then, Florida sophomore guard Delicia Washington left the game with an apparent ankle injury. The game changed drastically for Florida as Texas A&M took advantage of the situation by pulling away late to get the win, 85-80.

Setting The Tone

The Gators came out of the gate with more energy than the Aggies in the first half. Florida started the game trying to establish the three-point shot to build confidence to last the rest of the game. The Gators had early success beyond the arc finishing the first quarter shooting 5 of 11. This allowed Florida later in the game to go inside, especially with the Aggie defenders focusing solely on defending the three ball.

Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair went to extremes to defend Florida’s three-point shot. He opened the third quarter with a smaller lineup that the team isn’t accustomed to playing. This only gave Florida senior forward Haley Lorenzen the match up she needed to make plays. The Gators took advantage of the mismatch in the post and ran several isolation plays for Lorenzen, who finished the game with 22 points.

Florida even set the tone on the boards. The Gators showed more hustle after loose balls early on in Thursday’s game. Florida ended up being outrebounded by just one when the final buzzer sounded, but the effort on the boards early kept Florida competitive.

Delicia Injury Hurts Gators Down The Stretch

The chances of Florida completing the upset Thursday night took a serious hit late in the third quarter. With just 23 seconds remaining in the quarter, Florida sophomore guard Delicia Washington fell awkwardly after missing a jumper. She appeared to roll her ankle and was down on the court for a few minutes. Washington was attended to by both Florida and Texas A&M medical staffs. She needed assistance to walk off the court and was taken to the locker room, but couldn’t put pressure on the injured ankle.

With Washington out for the rest of the game, the Aggies saw this as their opportunity to take over the game. The Gators looked out of sorts without one of their primary ball distributors. In Washington’s absence, the Gators committed four turnovers in a span of just over a minute. Some of the miscues included intercepted passes and mental mistakes but Florida continued to fight. The Gators resorted to fouling game late to try and have a chance, but the plan failed due to Texas A&M’s known success at the foul line.

Washington appeared in the postgame handshake line walking on that ankle. It remains to be seen the severity of the injury or if she will miss playing time.

Three-Point Record

“Chuck it from the cheap seats” has been the motto for this team all season. The emphasis of the three-point shot from Gator coach Cam Newbauer was a change fans of Florida women’s basketball weren’t used to seeing.  Florida has broken multiple records over the course of the season beyond the arc and against the Aggies Thursday night in College Station, the Gators set a major program record. When Florida senior guard Dee Anderson hit a corner three in the third quarter, it was Florida’s 222nd three-point make of the season.

This was a program record for the Gators for most made three-pointers in a season. The original record of 221 was set back in the 2008-2009 season of Florida Gators women’s basketball.

On the night, the Gators finished with 13 three-pointers on 29 attempts. Florida junior guard Funda Nakkasoglu led all scorers with 24 points, which included five made 3 balls.  Paulina Hersler had three made 3’s and finished the game with 15 points.

Proud of the Fight

Even without one of their main producers on both ends of the court, the Gators battled with the Aggies till the very end. This one stings more than the previous one because it’s one of those games where one might wonder what might have been if Washington didn’t leave the game with an injury. The Gators had Texas A&M on the ropes with their healthy starting five, but once Washington went down, all the momentum Florida had seemed to dwindle. The team started making costly mistakes that proved to be the difference.

Without looking at what might have been, Gators head coach Cam Newbauer expressed how proud he was of his team’s effort once again.

What’s Next?

The Gators return home for a special Sunday afternoon match up with Vanderbilt. Sunday is Senior Day for the Florida Gator women’s basketball program. Three seniors that have meant so much to the program; Haley Lorenzen, Dee Anderson and Paulina Hersler, will be honored in a ceremony 15 minutes prior to the 1 p.m. tip Sunday in Exactech Arena.

About Zach Oliveri

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