Photo Courtesy of the University Athletic Association

Gators Women’s Hoops Falls to No. 7 Mississippi State at Home

Florida women’s basketball fell to 1-5 in conference play after losing  to No. 7 Mississippi State on Thursday.

The Gators had a tough time keeping up with the Bulldogs’ offensive firepower and couldn’t make enough defensive stops. This loss dropped Florida’s record to 5-14 overall and 5-5 at home on the season.

Head coach Cameron Newbauer said that even though his team lost 90-42, he views this game as a learning experience for his group:

First Half Offensive Explosion

The Bulldogs immediately put their high scoring offense on display against the Gators.

MSU’s Anriel Howard came in to Thursday’s game averaging 15.2 points per game. In the first half alone, the 5-foot-11 forward scored 19 points on just 12 shots from the field. Along with shooting 75 percent overall, Howard collected five boards as well.

As a team, MSU shot 67 percent from the field, knocked down four triples and grabbed 15 rebounds in the first two quarters.

On the bright side for the Gators, redshirt senior Funda Nakkasoglu got off to an efficient start. The team’s leading scorer had nine points on 3 of 7 shooting and connected on a three-pointer as well. True freshman Ariel Johnson, who started in place of Delicia Washington, made 50 percent of her attempts and had one rebound.

Different Half, Same Story

The Gators couldn’t claw their way back into the game after falling behind by a wide margin in the first 20 minutes of game time.

Florida’s defense did fairly well in the second half, holding MSU to 36 points on 44.1 shooting from the field. They also gave up just two three-pointers and out-rebounded their opponent by three rebounds during this time.

When it was all said and done, the Gators held one of the best centers in the nation, Teaira McCowan to just two points and six total rebounds. Newbauer talked about what led to his team limiting McCowan’s production:

Offensively, UF scored only 20 points and only made 25 percent of their shots in the third and fourth quarters. The team also made only 1 of their 10 three-point attempts and finished the game with 27 turnovers.

Kiara Smith led the way in the second half with six points, four of them coming from the free throw line. Nakkasoglu finished the game with 14 points, the 14th time she’s finished in double-digit points this season.

Johnson only connected on one shot in the final two quarters, but it came on an impressive pull-up jumper in the paint.

Unfortunately for Florida, Delicia Washington left the game in early in the fourth quarter. Newbauer said the junior guard is listed as day-to-day:

What’s Next?

UF will be back at home this Sunday to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks, with tip-off set for 2 p.m. The Gators are hoping to get their second conference win of the year and stay above .500 at home.

After that matchup, Florida won’t be back at the O’Dome until Feb. 7 as they will be on a two-game road trip against Tennessee and Kentucky.

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