Gators
Guard Leilani Correa led the Gators past Texas A&M on Sunday at the O'Connell Center. [Sydney Johnson/WRUF]

Gators Women’s Basketball takes on Vanderbilt in SEC Tournament

The Gators women’s basketball team will play the Vanderbilt Commodores in the second round of the SEC Tournament.

Path to Round Two

Florida

The Gators earned the No. 11 seed in the SEC Tournament by finishing the regular season 14-14 overall and 5-11 in conference play. Florida struggled throughout the year with its longest win streak only getting up to three games.

Aliyah Matharu leads the team in scoring with 18.1 points per game followed by Leilani Correa who averages 17.8. Ra Shaya Kyle is the Gators’ third-leading scorer and leads the team with 9.2 rebounds per game. Defensively, Matharu averages 2.7 steals per game followed by Jeriah Warren who averages two.

In Round 1, the Gators beat the Missouri Tigers 66-60. It was a team effort with four Florida players in double digits and as a tea. They had five blocks with four steals.

Vanderbilt

The Commodores ended their season 22-8 overall with a 9-7 conference record. They were able to rally a nine-game win streak in the middle of the year, including a win over the Gators.

Iyana Moore leads the team in scoring, averaging 13.7 points. Sacha Washington leads the team with 7.8 rebounds per game. Jordyn Cambridge is a big help defensively leading the team with 3.6 steals per game.

After ending the season with three wins, Vanderbilt secured the No. 6 seed with a first-round bye week in the SEC Tournament.

Previous Matchup

Vanderbilt beat Florida at home 63-57 when they played earlier this year. Cambridge and Moore led the Commodores to victory scoring 24 and 20, respectively. Florida benefitted from points off the bench as Correa had 22 which led the team. Another 10 points came from others on the bench which was enough to outscore Vanderbilt’s four.

Fouls were an issue for the Gators. Both Matharu and Faith Dut fouled out with Correa and Eriny Kindred right behind them with four. This led to 30 free throws for the Commodores who made 23. Florida on the other hand went 8-for-10 from the line. Washington fouled out for Vanderbilt and was the only one in foul trouble. In a six-point game, a 20 free throw attempt difference can have a big impact.

Another big factor in the game was turnovers. Both teams struggled to take care of the ball as the Gators had 17 steals and the Commodores had 15. This allowed both teams to get about a third of their points from turnovers as Florida had 21 and Vanderbilt had 17.

What to look for

Florida will look to clean up its fouls, and if they can get to the free throw line more often it will play to their advantage. They need to take care of the ball and avoid going over double-digit turnovers again. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt will look for more points off the bench and take care of the ball.

This is a big game for the Gators because according to ESPN’s Women’s Bracketology, they will most likely miss the NCAA Tournament. This means that to guarantee their spot, they will need to win the SEC Championship. As for the Commodores, they are projected to be a No. 11 seed which means they will likely have more games win or lose.

The game is set to start at 8:30 p.m. (SEC Network, ESPN 98.1-FM, AM-850 WRUF) as the Gators play the Commodores in Greenville, South Carolina, in the second round of the SEC Tournament. The winner will play Ole Miss on Friday at 9:30 p.m.

About Michael Tubbs

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