Laila Reynolds (#13) advances past a player on the Florida Southern Mocs at the Exactech Arena Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023, in Gainesville Fla., where the Florida Gators hosted the Florida Southern Mocs in an exhibition game to open their 2023-2024 season. (Augustus Hoff/WRUF)

Gator Women’s Basketball Team Falls To No. 12 FSU

The Gator women’s basketball team fell to No. 12 Florida State on Friday, 79-75. The Gators rallied during this in-state rival match up, but couldn’t finish victorious.

Florida took their first defeat of the season and sits at a 3-1.

First Half

The Gators opened the first few minutes of the first half slowly. They had quite a few shot attempts, but nothing seemed to go in. 

With 5:16 left in the quarter, coach Kelly Rae Finley called a timeout due to the Gators’ 2 of-6 shooting and four turnovers.

Out of the break, Florida returned to Ra Shaya Kyle in the paint, and the junior center scored her second basket. The first three pointer of the night was made by freshman guard Laila Reynolds, cutting Florida State’s lead to 14-9.

A basket by Alberte Rimdal made it 18-14 Seminoles late in the quarter. With 1:19 left in the first, Aliyah Matharu sized up her defender and hit a triple to make it 21-17. The second quarter began with FSU leading 23-21.

To open the scoring in the second period, Florida State guard O’Mariah Gordon slithered through the Gators’ defense and made a soft layup to make it 29-25, Matharu cut through the paint before passing to Kyle. Florida’s offense stalled, and the Seminoles extended their lead to eight points before a media timeout.

To cut the lead to four, Matharu ripped through the defense for a wide-open layup. In the other end, senior forward Faith Dut blocked a shot and returned the ball to the Gators. Leilani Correa’s offensive breakthrough made it 35-33 after Florida forced stops.

A second triple from Matharu gave the Gators their first lead of the night, 36-35. The Gators’ defense shut down the Seminoles, and Matharu sidestepped a defender before draining another triple. Florida held FSU to just 31.7% from the field in the first half.

Second Half

In the third quarter, Matharu continued to flourish with the ball in her hands. During the opening minutes of the quarter, she dribbled to the basket and finished inside. A quick inside basket from Kyle got the Gators off to a hot start.

Sara Bejedi’s two free throws tied the game at 42 for Florida State. With a turnaround jump shot and a free throw, Jeriah Warren put Florida back in the lead. Florida held a six-point lead after Rimdal hit a triple.

With Ta’Niya Latson’s quick layup and Gordon’s three pointer, the Seminoles tied the game.

To make it a two-possession lead, Gordon went to the free throw line, but both attempts were missed. Gator center Kyle had a chance to amend a turnover after the Seminoles (3-0) fouled her on the rebound. FSU led by one after she split her attempts.

Kyle scored a layup inside, but Latson scored another layup. With 15.8 seconds left, Latson added two more free throws to give FSU a three-point lead. Kyle split a pair of free throws, and the Gators settled for a quick two instead of a tying three.

In the final seconds of the game, Florida’s inbounds pass error all but ended the game, and Latson added two more free throws to finish with 35 points.

Up Next

For the Baha Mar Hoops Pink Flamingo Championship, the Gators will travel to the Bahamas. The Gators will take on the Purdue Boilermakers on Monday at 4 p.m. and the Columbia Lions at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

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