HomeSportsUF Women’s Basketball: Florida Earns Road Win at UNC Asheville, Improves to 5-1
UF Women’s Basketball: Florida Earns Road Win at UNC Asheville, Improves to 5-1
December 9, 2020
Courtesy of University Athletic Association
BY SAM STOLTE
Women’s basketball wins fourth consecutive game to close out rugged stretch
Taking the floor for the fifth time in the last nine days, the University of Florida women’s basketball team (5-1) collected its first road win of the season and fourth straight victory overall, defeating the host UNC Asheville Bulldogs, 70-48, Wednesday inside of Kimmel Arena.
In an arena without fans, the Gators created their own energy and the offense game from two familiar suspects in senior point guard Kiki Smith and sophomore standout Lavender Briggs. Briggs, scoring 20 or more points for the seventh time in her young career, led all scorers with 20, while Smith, with 14 or more points for the sixth straight game to open the campaign, added 15 points, six assists, and five rebounds.
Scoring came from all around the Florida lineup, though, and the Gators recorded a new season best with 18 assists and 10 different players scoring. Sophomore forward Faith Dut broke through for a career-best 14 points to go with five boards and two blocks. Fellow post player Floor Toonders established a new career best, adding seven points off the bench. Dut and Toonders helped Florida establish an immense advantage near the basket as the Gators outscored the Bulldogs 44-24 in the paint.
The Gators finished the contest shooting an even 50 percent from the floor (30-of-60) and out-rebounded the Bulldogs 41-29. As they have all season, the Gators defended the three-point line effectively, limiting UNC Asheville to just 2-of-25 from distance.
UF led for over 39 minutes in the game.
Florida got off to a slow start but held a 9-7 lead at the game’s first media timeout. It made four of its first eight shots but committed five turnovers in the first five minutes. After the Bulldogs narrowed the gap to 10-9 early, Florida responded with 11 straight points and led 21-9 at the quarter’s end. Smith and Briggs added five each in the opening frame, and the Gators made nine of their 17 shots overall. The Gators feasted in the paint, scoring 14 of their 21 in the painted area.
The Gators’ lead swelled to 30-13 early in the second frame, but UNC Asheville scored six consecutive points to trim the lead back to 30-19 coming out of a media timeout. After a 21-point opening frame, Florida’s faltered a bit in the second, but it righted the ship at the end of the second and carried a 36-22 edge at the intermission.
The sophomore Briggs led all scorers with 11 first-half points, while her running mate Smith had 10. UF was ahead for nearly the entire opening 20 minutes, possessing the edge for 19:25.
Asheville’s Kai Carter hit a three-pointer to open the second half, but Florida quickly responded with another 6-0 run to stabilize its lead. Its lead grew to 19 midway though the third period after a nifty left-handed finish from Toonders. The Gators established their first 20-point lead of the game after a triple from the wing from Smith, prompting a UNC Asheville timeout with 4:24 to play in the frame. All told, it was a 16-2 scoring run that Florida responded with after Carter’s three to open the half.
The Gators limited UNC Asheville to just seven points in the third quarter, the fewest points they have allowed in a period all year. Florida led 55-29 heading into the final frame after it limited UNC Asheville to only three made field goals in the segment.
The Bulldogs opened the fourth quarter with a 14-2 scoring run, and Florida’s sizable lead was minimized to just 59-44 with under five minutes to play. After some lengthy playing time for its reserves, Florida returned its starting five to the court to help try to fight off the pesky UNC Asheville press. UNC Asheville outscored 19-15 in the fourth, but it wasn’t enough to deny the Gators their first victory away from home.
Nadiria Evans, who has scored over 900 points in a Bulldog uniform and is a Gainesville native, paced UNC Asheville with 14 points.
Overall thoughts on the game… “I thought we had some moments where we played very very aggressively and very well. I thought we had some other moments too where we just weren’t quite as aggressive and we had some turnovers. Part of that is playing five games in nine days with still a pretty young squad. But that’ll come with it. I thought we had some good moments with some players making some aggressive plays and being assertive. Just getting a road win is great, and any time you can win on the road it’s something to celebrate.”
On the team’s season high in assists… “We wanted to get more paint touches but also wanted to get more touches on the perimeter. Just getting the ball going side to side and reversing it. Forcing their guards to play on both sides of the floor, so it was a concerted effort to do that, definitely. We shared the ball and had some great possessions today.”
Florida improves to 1-0 all time against UNC Asheville.
The Gators are now 13-2 against Big South programs.
Wednesday marked Florida’s first road victory.
Kiki Smith scored in double figures for the sixth straight game to open the season.