University of Florida women’s basketball players Lavender Briggs and Jordyn Merritt both brought home SEC Postseason Honors, with the sophomore standout Briggs earning a spot on the All-SEC Second Team and Merritt securing a place on the All-Freshman squad, the league office announced Tuesday.
Before it was announced that Briggs would miss the remainder of the season due to a foot injury on Feb. 15, the Utah native put together one of the best seasons in program history, and she will finish with the fourth-highest points-per-game average ever by a Gator (19.4). In conference play, Briggs increased her scoring average to 21.8 points per game, which trailed only Arkansas senior Chelsea Dungee in the talent-rich SEC. Briggs’ scoring average in SEC play is the highest by a Florida player since the 1982-83 season, when former All-American and 1992 Olympian Tammy Jackson averaged 22.0.
Briggs becomes the first Florida player since Ronni Williams in 2016 to collect All-SEC team honors, and with Merritt’s designation, the Gators have garnered an All-Freshman team honoree in consecutive seasons for the first time since the 2015-16 and 2016-17 campaigns.
Merritt, who joined Briggs as just the second player in program history to earn a spot in the Jordan Brand Classic just a year ago, put together a strong debut campaign with the Orange and Blue, averaging 5.5 points and 3.7 rebounds. Taking on an elevated role in Florida’s most recent matchups, Merritt has played 30 or more minutes in four of the Gators’ last five contests, and just this past Sunday the Texas native set a new career high with 16 points. Merritt was tabbed the SEC Freshman of the Week on Tuesday, Feb. 23 after recording 12 points and a career-high nine boards at Missouri.
For the 6-foot-1 guard Briggs, it is her second SEC postseason honor; she was also named to the SEC All-Freshman Team a year ago after leading the team in scoring at 15.0 points per game.
Briggs showed night in, night out, that she was one of the league’s most gifted scorers, tallying 20 or more points in nine games, including five in SEC action. Leading UF in scoring 13 times, Briggs’ prolific scoring ability was on full display just over a month ago at nationally-ranked Arkansas when she poured in a career-best 41 points — the fourth-most ever by a Florida player and the most by a sophomore in program history. Her contributions didn’t stop with just scoring, though, as she ranked third on the team in rebounding (6.5) and second in assists.
Merritt, a starter in UF’s last five games, has really come on strong to finish the season with three double-figure scoring games on the season, and two of those have come in the last three contests. Merritt is one of six underclassmen on UF’s roster, a group that accounts for 60 percent of the team’s scoring. The 6-foot-3 forward ranks top 10 among SEC freshmen in scoring, minutes played, and rebounding.
The Gators kick off postseason play tomorrow when they take on Auburn in the opening round of the SEC Tournament in Greenville, SC.
The complete 2021 SEC Women’s Basketball Postseason Awards follow.