The University of Florida’s women’s basketball team’s journey in the WNIT has come to a close. The Gators season ended after a loss to the Villanova Wildcats 77-57 in the second round of the tournament on Saturday night.
— Gators Women’s Basketball (@GatorsWBK) March 21, 2021
A Look Back on this Season
The Gators came out strong at the start of this season. At their first game on Nov. 25, the Gators demolished the Grambling State Tigers, 90-47. After a loss to Florida State University on Dec. 1, the Gators had six consecutive wins until they were defeated by South Carolina on Dec. 31, 75-59. After a five-game losing streak, UF struck against Auburn beating the Tigers 68-54 on Jan. 17. With a series of back and forth wins and losses, the Gators ended the regular season 10-12.
In the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament, UF defeated Auburn in the first round, 69-62. Unfortunately, the Gators fell to No. 5 Kentucky in the second round, 73-64. In the WNIT, the Gators barely secured the win against Charlotte, 66-65; however, they fell short to Villanova in the second round, 77-57, ending the Gators season with 12 wins and 14 losses.
In the final game of the season, a few of UF’s women’s basketball players set new career records. Junior guard Kristina Moore set a new career-best with 13 points against Villanova as well as a career-best 12 points. For the 14th time in her career, redshirt senior guard Danielle Rainey scored 10 or more points. Finally, redshirt senior guard Kiara “Kiki” Smith finished off this season with 25 double-figure scoring efforts in 26 games.
Gator fans will miss seeing Smith play as this was her third and final season with the Gators. During games, she was a clear leader on the court, and her teammates looked up to her. Smith was a consistent scorer for the Gators and throughout her collegiate career has become a dependable point guard. Her season highs for the 2020-2021 season include 36 points and 14 field goals made against Kentucky on March 4.
Looking Ahead for Future Seasons
Under Head Coach Cameron Newbauer, the UF women’s basketball team hasn’t exactly taken off. In his first season with the Gators, UF ended the 2017-2018 season 11-19. In the 2018-2019 season, the Gators were worse off with an 8-23 record, and for the 2019-2020 season, the Gators had a tied 15-15 record.
Ending the 2020-2021 season with a 12-14 record, should the UF women’s basketball program replace Newbauer in hopes for a season where wins exceed the team’s losses? Newbauer did exceptionally well with Belmont in the two seasons prior to joining the Florida organization. But can he do the same for Florida?
If the women’s basketball team wants any chance of a winning record next season, it’s time to part ways with Newbauer. A fresh start with a new head coach may be what this team needs to exceed in future seasons and tournaments.