Florida earns back-to-back wins for the first time this season as they defeat the once-unbeaten Grambling State Tigers, 70-55. The Gators women’s basketball team returned home to the O’Connell Center Friday after playing in the preseason WNIT Classic this past weekend.
Despite having four inactive players, Head Coach Kelly Rae Finley looked to her bench, as they gave the Gators enough firepower for the victory at home.
Florida Gators (3-2)
Entering Friday, the Gators were coming off a blowout victory against the Wofford Terriers, 61-47 Monday. Veteran guard Kiara Smith and Lavender Briggs led the way for Florida combining for 25 points and 10 rebounds.
However, Friday for Florida was a different story.
Smith, who scored a season-low four points in Friday’s game, is now only 166 points shy from becoming the 27th player all-time reaching 1,000 career points. It was a tough shooting night for Smith, as she continues to battle a back injury.
With Smith struggling from the floor, the reserves provided a necessary boost as the Gators outscored the Tigers 30-15 in bench points.
Coming off the bench, sophomore guard Brynn Farrell led the way for the Gators with a team-high 17 points. Overall, Florida shot a mere 6-20 from deep. Farrell shot perfect (5-5) from the field including, 3-3 from behind the ark.
Finley talks about the impressive play Farrell displayed.
Farrell’s impressive shooting performance was recorded as her best night in her career.
Behind Farrell, two Gators also landed in double figures. Emanuely De Oliveira and Briggs combined for 28 points and 10 rebounds.
Even with Smith struggling from the floor, the 5’10 guard led the team with nine assists. Finley mentions the many facets of the game Smith impacts on a game-to-game basis
Overall, the Gators stringy defense held the Tigers to under 10 points in both the second and third quarters. Florida forced 19 total turnovers.
Grambling State Tigers (2-1)
The Tigers get their first loss of the season after defeating Northwestern, 68-60, on Wednesday. Friday’s matchup marked the first road test for the Tigers. Leading the way was junior guard Ciera Ellington with 18 points.
After leading after the first quarter 16-15, the Tigers failed to sustain any consistent offense for the remainder of the game. In the second and third periods, the Tigers were outscored 35-17.
However, down 17 points to start the fourth quarter, the offense peaked for the Tigers. An early 8-0 run helped them trim the deficit to under 10. The Tigers, though, weren’t able to complete the comeback as the Gators grew the lead back to double-digits.
Florida looks ahead as they host USC Upstate Monday. Coming off back-to-back wins, the Gators look to continue the momentum. Tip-off for Monday’s matchup against the Spartans is set for 6 p.m.