The Florida Gators Women’s Basketball Team entered Sunday with a chance to get their eighth win of the season and first of the new year. Unfortunately, however, Florida fell short to the Georgia Bulldogs, in Athens 68-58. The fourth-consecutive loss drops the Gators to 7-5 on the season. On the other hand, the Bulldogs improved to 10-1. Georgia currently holds the SEC’s second-best record.
A Fast Start for the Gators
Ahead of Sunday, Gators Head Coach Cam Newbauer emphasized the importance of starting fast–and remaining focused throughout. Beginning strong was not an issue for the Gators on Sunday. Florida scored nine straight after falling behind by five early to lead by four midway through the first quarter. Gators’ senior guard Kiara Smith opened on fire, scoring Florida’s first six points and assisting on an ensuing three from Kristina Moore.
Smith is second on the team in scoring, averaging 15.2 points per game, and first in assists with 38. Smith finished with 13 points and six assists. As a team, the Gators had just eight assists.
With just a minute remaining in the game’s opening period, the Gators held a game-high seven-point lead, up 18-11.
Bulldogs Battle Back
Georgia closed the gap by quarters’ end, setting up a hotly contested finish to the first half.
Bulldogs’ senior guard Maya Caldwell connected on a three-ball with just 10 seconds remaining in the second quarter. The half concluded with Georgia clinging to a 37-32, and the Bulldogs did not look back from there.
Gators Scoring Drought and Bulldog Dominance
Florida got on the scoreboard early in the second half thanks to a tough lay-in from freshman Jordyn Merritt. However, that would be the last Gator to score for the next three minutes of game-time. During this time, Georgia went on an extended 12-2 run, dating back to the first half, opening up the game.
During the third period, Georgia Center Jenna Staiti feasted inside, proving why she is the Bulldog’s leading scorer this season. Staiti scored 11 points in the 3rd quarter alone, and 17 points in all.
Gators leading scorer, sophomore guard Lavender Briggs, helped keep the Gators within striking distance in the fourth quarter, but her efforts weren’t enough to mount a comeback. Briggs led Florida in scoring on the day, finishing with 16, just short of her 17.9 season average.
Time ran out on Florida’s comeback bid as the Bulldogs proved to be too much for the Gators.
Florida will get another opportunity to bounce back this week as they’ll face the 13th ranked, 10-3 Arkansas Razorbacks on the road in Fayetteville, Arkansas on Thursday, Jan. 14.
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