An official tries to stop a scuffle between Florida's Tatyana Wyche (2), far right, and Kentucky's Jada Walker (11), center, in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game during the Southeastern Conference women's tournament in Greenville, S.C., Wednesday, March 1, 2023. Several players from both teams were ejected from the game. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)

Florida Women’s Basketball Season cut short

The Gators women’s basketball season was cut short after only playing in the first round of the 2023 SEC Tournament Wednesday night. Florida lost to Kentucky 72-57, finishing their time in the tournament.

The Gators will have to wait for a potential bid to the NIT Tournament, and the bracket won’t be released until March 13. The team is still in contention with a winning record of 16-14.

2022-2023 Season

Compared to the first year under Kelly Rae Finley, Florida did not meet expectations this season. The Gators were 21-11 for the 2021-2022 season and played in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016.

At 16-14, the team finished 10th in the SEC with a conference record of 5-11.

They started the season strong, winning 11 of their first 12 games and even going on a 9-game winning stretch. Florida started to struggle in early January when they lost a series of conference games. They had a four-game losing streak and broke it against Vanderbilt. Although they beat out Vanderbilt and Texas A&M at the end of January and early February, the team fell into another losing slump for five games.

The Gators also had a setback in October. Zippy Broughton’s season-ending injury hurt Florida as she was a pivotal player and leader. Broughton inherited the role of point guard after Kiara Smith had an injury during the 2021-2022 SEC Tournament. Broughton decided to use her fifth-year of eligibility to stay and lead the team. Her season ended after she announced in October that she would only be contributing to the team from the bench.

Starting forward Jordyn Merritt also took a step off the court in November for personal reasons. She made her return during the Vanderbilt game on Jan. 22.

KK Deans, Faith Dut and Nina Rickards were this season’s seniors. They accounted for 45% of the teams’ offensive production and 46% of the defense.

The Gators ended their season falling to Kentucky after having four players ejected after a fight broke out on the court and bench.

Incoming 5-Star

Florida landed 2023 five-star recruit, Laila Reynolds, for the upcoming season. The 6-foot-1 guard from PG County, Maryland, is the No. 19 recruit of her class according to ESPN. Reynolds chose Florida over offers from UCLA, Georgia and Mississippi State.

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