Aliyah Matharu dribbles the ball at the Exactech Arena Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Nov. 1 vs. the Florida Southern Mocs in an exhibition game to open their 2023-2024 season. [Augustus Hoff/WRUF]

Gators Women’s Basketball Claw Down Tigers

Most games are about how they finish. For the Gators, this one was all about the start.

The Florida women’s basketball team defended home court against Missouri, 86-70, on Thursday. The Gators picked up their 14th win of the season, an important one after losing back-to-back games.

Guard Aliyah Matharu led the Gators (14-11, 5-8 SEC) with 28 points and four rebounds. Zippy Broughton followed with a season-high 18 points. For Mizzou (11-15, 2-11), Abbey Schreacke had 16 points.

Gators Can’t Miss If They Tried

There is hot. Then there is Gators women’s basketball on a Thursday night hot.

Florida beat the brakes off Mizzou right from the jump. The Gators went 11-for-11 before they missed their first shot for a 28-8 lead on a 18-2 run.

The eight turnovers by the Tigers did not do themselves any favors, as the Gators took advantage to score 20 points of those TOs. At the end of the first, Florida was up 36-13 behind Matharu’s 11 points.

Zippy De Dut Da

Behind Leilani Correa’s seven points, Broughton and Faith Dut each had six points to hold on to the lead in the second quarter. The pair ran the offense by utilizing the high pick and roll.

But things would get a bit closer as both teams would struggle toward the end of the quarter. At one point, Florida was on a 0-4 field-goal run and Mizzou was 1-8 . However, Dut continued to dominate inside and was able to get clean looks to give Florida a 55-30 lead at the half.

Mizzou Rallies

In the SEC, no lead is safe.

Almost like momentum flipped to start the third, as Florida came out cold with an 0-4 start. The Tigers rallied by forcing six turnovers and drawing five fouls in the quarter. This charge by the Missouri would allow them to go on a 6-0 run and outscore UF 19-14.

But once again, Correa continued to score in crucial moments as she has done all season. The Gators closed out the quarter strong by ending it with a 69-49 lead.

Matharu Calls Game

When in doubt, Matharu knows a way out.

When Mizzou brought the game to an 11-point differential, the former Texas Longhorn put the Gators on her back. She scored 13 points in the quarter, hitting vital free throws down the stretch.

The Tigers did not go out without a fight, as they clawed back at the free-throw line. But a 1-9 shooting run made it easy for Matharu to close out the game.

Up Next

Florida will next play Sunday at Georgia (11-15, 2-11) at 1 p.m. (SEC Network+, ESPN Gainesville 98.1-FM/850-AM WRUF).

About Miguel Molina

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