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Gators Women’s Hoops Hosts Ole Miss

The Gators women’s basketball team looks to get their first SEC win tonight as they host Ole Miss in the O’Dome. The Gators faced Georgia to open up conference play but fell short to the No. 13 team with a final score of 73-69.

The Past Matchups

Florida currently has a winning streak over the Ole Miss Rebels with a record of 24-19 going into the 44th matchup. In the 2020-2021 season, Florida defeated Ole Miss 78-68 in Oxford. The Gators are currently 10-4 this season while the Rebels are 12-1. This game will be Ole Miss’ first conference game this season and the Gators’ second. Florida currently has a three game win-streak over Ole Miss.

Last Time on the Court

The Gators lost a close match against their rival, Georgia, on Sunday. Jordyn Merritt had one of the best offensive games of her career, putting up 18 points. Kiara Smith, a veteran on the team, also had an outstanding game, recording 17 points, eight rebounds, five assists and five steals. Nina Rickards added 15 points for the Gators against Georgia.

Florida shot 81.8% in the first quarter against Georgia, which is the second time this season that Florida has shot over 80% in one frame. Additionally, this is the first time that the Florida women’s basketball team has shot over 80% in multiple quarters in a season since transitioning to quarters back in the 2015-2016 campaign.

Continual Growth for the Gators

“Our focus has been on continual growth, but individually and collectively as a team,” said head coach Kelly Rae Finley. “We have found successes and we have been able to grow each week as we go into our new competitions.”

Coach Finley also highlighted some qualities of the team that have allowed them to grow into the team they are now.

When asked how the team has improved, Coach Finley noted the important changes that the team has made. “We are sharing the ball well. We are starting to see the floor better. Our defense with intensity has picked up, but I think just making the right play and knowing how to move together both offensively and defensively. With those multiple efforts, I think we have seen huge growth.”

Gators as Role Models

“I don’t have kids of my own but if I did I would want them to look up to our young women. I think that they are inspiring. They embody everything it means to be strong, confident, loving, nurturing, competitive and fierce young women,” said Coach Finley.

Coach Finley explained how the seniors played such a big role on this team on and off the court. Kristina Moore, Emanuely de Oliveira and Kiara Smith are among the few that were highlighted.

The Gators will host the Ole Miss Rebels tonight, Jan. 6, at 6 p.m. in the Exactech Arena at the Stephen A. O’Connell Center.

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