Gators Guard Kiki Smith steals the ball in their game against George Mason. (Photo Courtesy @GatorsWBK Twitter)

Gator Women’s Basketball Earns First SEC Win in Double-Overtime Thriller at College Station

Florida Gator women’s basketball (11-5) pulled off a comeback 97-89 win at number 25 Texas A&M (10-5) in a double-overtime thriller on Sunday. After trailing for as many as 19 points in the third quarter, the Gators managed to tie the game at 71-71 in regulation and outlasted the Aggies for their first conference win.

Zippy Broughton led the Gators in scoring with a career-high 28 points on 10-for-19 shooting and seven rebounds. Kiki Smith pitched in for 27 points and nine rebounds. The two combined for 22 of the Gators’ 26 points in the two overtime periods. Jordyn Merritt also added 17 points on 5-for-8 three point shooting.

Four players scored in double figures for the Aggies. Guard Qadashah Hoppie led Texas A&M with 25 points in the loss, and Kayla Wells put up 23 points and five rebounds. Forward Aaliyah Patty secured a double-double with 10 points and 16 rebounds but fouled out in the second overtime.

The Gators saw a strong uptick in offensive performance from their double-digit loss to Ole Miss on Thursday. Florida shot 24-of-60 from the field against the Rebels and finished 0-for-8 from beyond the arc.

In Sunday’s win, the Gators finished 34-of-75 from the field and 13-for-30 from three. The 13 made three-pointers is the third-best shooting performance in Gator history.

On the other hand, the Aggies came in ranked as the third-best three-point shooting team in the country but finished just shooting 4-for-11 from beyond the arc.

Down but Not Out

The Gators trailed the Aggies 34-27 at halftime after Texas A&M went on a 14-3 run to close the second quarter. The Aggies outrebounded Florida 29-13 at the intermission, and Aaliyah Patty already had eight points and 12 rebounds at the half.

Hoppie nailed three straight field goals to start the second half to extend the Aggies’ lead to 13 points, and as a team, they scored on their first six possessions of the period.

Texas A&M led by as much as 19 points in the third quarter, with a 55-36 lead, but the Gators hung around, trailing only 61-52 after the third quarter, and two straight threes from Merritt to start the fourth quarter cut the deficit to 61-58.

Kiki Smith capped off a three-point play on a layup to give the Gators a five-point lead, but the Aggies responded with five straight points of their own to tie the contest at 67. Both teams exchanged layups and chances to put the game on ice, but the game remained tied as regulation expired, and both teams went to overtime.

Overtime Madness

For the first time in the series’ history, the Gators and Aggies went to overtime. Both teams opened up the scoring in overtime with three-pointers, but the Aggies took a 78-74 lead a couple of minutes into the period.

The Gators fought back, though, due to efficient play in the paint from Broughton and Smith, and tied it up at 82. Smith picked up a foul on her way up to the basket and nailed both free throws with eight seconds left to give the Gators a two-point lead.

Hoppie picked up a personal foul of her own, though, on the Aggies’ last possession of OT and they converted both free throws to send the game to a second overtime.

Double overtime got off to a different start, with the Gators riding the hot hand. Broughton and Smith made consecutive field goals to give Florida an early 88-84 lead. Patty fouled out of the game after dealing with foul trouble for most of overtime, and the Gators began to chip away at the Aggies inside the paint.

Smith and Broughton put up six straight points in crunch time for the Gators to give them a 94-88 lead, and the Aggies couldn’t recover. Florida completed the comeback win and earned their first SEC victory and their first win in College Station.

The Implications

With the win, not only did the Gators secure their first conference win of the season, but Kelly Rae Finley earned her first SEC win as head coach. Sunday also marked Florida’s first ranked win of the season.

So, despite losing Lavender Briggs for the season to injury, Broughton and Smith stepped up to lead the Gators to their biggest win of the season. They’ll return home to host an 8-6 Auburn squad.

Meanwhile, the Aggies dropped their third straight SEC game, and they’ll hit the road to take on number one South Carolina next.

About Parker Fluke

I'm a third-year student at the University of Florida passionate about storytelling and sportswriting. My goal is to work in communications for a professional sports team after I graduate.

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