Gator women's basketball team
The Gator Women's Basketball Team celebrate a 110-46 win over Saint Leo. (Photo courtesy of @GatorsWBK on twitter)

Florida Women Host Bethune Cookman on Hardwood

On Friday night in the O’Dome, Kelly Rae Finley’s Gators host a struggling in-state foe.

Florida women’s basketball (2-1) looks to notch another non-conference win as they face Bethune Cookman (0-2).

Gators Identity? New Faces

For Florida, the transfer portal is already paying dividends.

After Kiki Smith left for the WNBA draft, second-year head coach Kelly Rae Finley & her staff knew they would need scoring help this season.

Enter KK Deans and Leilani Correa. The two transfers from West Virginia and St. John’s, respectively, are Florida’s top two scorers through three games.

Correa, who leads Florida with 19 points per game, was an All-Big East First Team selection last season.

The super-transfer from New Jersey feels right at home with her new head coach:

How far can the Gators go in Finley’s first official year? The answer probably lies largely with its transfers.

Different Starts for Young Coaches

While it was under an interim title, Finley led the Gators for all of last season. With a 21-11 record and NCAA tournament berth, it was better than any season for Florida under Cameron Newbauer.

This year, she looks to build even further as the official head coach.

For Bethune Cookman, a coaching change has been less fruitful.

The Wildcats went just 6-21 last year – Janell Crayton‘s first leading the team. Crayton, previously an assistant with Kennesaw State, is tasked with replacing the program’s best-ever coach.

In her last season with the program, former BCU coach Vanessa Blair-Lewis led the Wildcats to their first-ever NCAA tournament. In 13 years with the team, she won MEAC coach of the year honor four times.

In fact, BCU had only two winning seasons in program history before Blair-Lewis came along.

If Crayton is going to find momentum, a huge upset win against an SEC foe would go an extraordinarily long way.

Gators Look to Chomp Big

If the transitive property tells us anything, Florida should be eyeing a blowout Friday night.

Florida’s last outing, and first loss of the season was a 92-77 defeat at Florida State. The Gators put forth a strong third quarter showing but could not capitalize.

https://twitter.com/GatorsWBK/status/1593038322607063040

Bethune Cookman has also played the Seminoles already and lost 113-50.

Look for the Gator defense, which ranks 13th nationally in takeaways, to play aggressive and try pouncing early.

Tipoff in the O’Connell Center is set for 6 p.m. ET. The game will be streamed on SEC Network+ and carried on 98.1 FM/850AM WRUF.

About Jake Lehman

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