For the first time in five years, the Florida Gators women’s basketball team is playing postseason hoops. The Gators begin the first round of the WNIT tonight in Charlotte against the Charlotte 49ers.
A Glance at the Gators
Florida enters the WNIT with a record of (11-13). Florida last played in the SEC Tournament roughly two weeks ago where it drew a 1-1 record.
The Gators put together a strong showing in Greenville, South Carolina, even though they fell in the second round to a Top 5 Kentucky team. Florida defeated a ranked Auburn Tigers team 69-62 in the opening round and took the Wildcats down to the wire in round 2.
Redshirt senior guard Kiki Smith has been one of the Gators’ top performers all season long and led all players in scoring in both games during the SEC Tournament. Smith totaled 19 points on 8 of 20 shooting from the floor against Auburn while countering that with a career performance in the following game against Kentucky.
But the SEC Tournament is now an afterthought for Florida. The Gators are now putting all of their focus towards Charlotte. Head coach Cam Newbauer said the 49ers are an aggressive squad and love to play at a fast pace while on the floor.
In terms of looking at how he thinks his team has progressed from the start of the season to now, Newbauer noted the physicality of his squad as being an area that has improved over the last few months.
Also playing a factor into this area of toughness that Florida has shown over the course of the season is its young roster. Newbauer talked about some of the freshman and sophomores who have stepped up and played big roles on the floor this year.
Looking at the 49ers
As for the Gators’ opponent tonight, Charlotte enters the WNIT with a record of (10-10). In Conference USA play, the 49ers finished (9-5) overall.
Scoring hasn’t been a challenge for Charlotte this season. Through 20 games, the 49ers lead their conference in total points, with an average of 76 per contest.
The Gators and 49ers are set to tip-off at 5 p.m. this evening from Bojangles Coliseum. Rather than having teams play at home this season, the WNIT is instead being hosted in four different cities featuring eight teams in each region.
With this format, it also guarantees Florida two games even if it was to suffer a loss tonight. This is something Newbauer is excited about, as it allows more opportunities to get better.
We’ll see how the Gators fair come time to take the floor.