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UF Women’s Basketball: Trouble with the Tide, Gators Fall at Alabama

Lavender Briggs poured in 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting to pace the Gators in the hard-fought loss.

Courtesy of UF Athletic Association

Women’s basketball comes up short, 69-62, in Tuscaloosa Thursday

Despite 21 points from freshman guard Lavender Briggs, the University of Florida women’s basketball team fell 69-62 at Alabama Thursday evening at Coleman Coliseum.

The Gators led by six in the fourth quarter but saw the host Crimson Tide take control of the game late with an 8-0 run. Playing its second-straight road game, Florida featured two double-figure scorers in Briggs and redshirt-junior guard Kiki Smith, who added 10.

After the score was deadlocked at 58-58 with 3:54 remaining in the fourth, the Crimson Tide scored eight straight points, while Florida went scoreless for over three minutes.

Smith led the Gators with five dimes, tossing out five or more assists for the ninth time this season, while Briggs eclipsed the 20-point mark for the third time this season and second time in three contests.

UF led 49-48 heading into the fourth and grew its lead to six early, but the Crimson Tide outscored the Gators 21-13 in the final frame to nab their 15th win of the season.  

Florida finished the game shooting an even 40 percent from the floor while UA shot 49%. The Gators held the edge on the glass 38-36 despite its frontcourt being plagued by foul trouble.

Putting together another solid all-around game off the Gator bench, Ariel Johnson added eight points, four rebounds, and three assists.

Florida got some good looks early to begin the game but missed its first four shots and trailed 5-0. UF possessed a 10-9 lead at the under five media timeout after Nina Rickards drilled her second three of the game. Enduring a 1-of-9 from the floor shooting stretch, Florida trailed 16-14 at the conclusion of the first. Florida’s offensive execution yielded an array of high percentage shots, but it wouldn’t get many friendly rolls as they shot just 5-of-19 from the field. Rickards led all scorers with six points in the stanza, and the Crimson Tide shot 50 percent.

Alabama opened the second quarter with three consecutive makes and a 6-0 scoring surge, prompting a Gator timeout. Countering with 10 straight points, Florida tied the score at 24-24. Briggs cashed in on a three-point attempt to give Florida a 27-24 edge and provoke an Alabama timeout. The offensive execution from both teams sharpened up towards the end of the half as the teams combined to make nine of their final 11 shots in the half. Alabama led 35-33 at the break after Hannah Barber connected on a three-point try with 20 seconds to play.

After some offensive struggles in the first, Florida shot 50 percent in the second stanza, but Alabama made seven of its 10 shots. Briggs checked in 11 points at the break to lead all scorers.  

Florida valued its possessions, committing just five turnovers, but Alabama scored at an efficient rate, knocking down 58.3 percent of its attempts.

Briggs scored three straight points to put Florida ahead 39-37, and the first-year standout had the hot hand early in the second half, tallying five of UF’s first 10 points. It led 43-40 at the under-five media timeout, and UF began 4-of-8 from the floor. Heading into the final frame, Florida clung to a narrow 49-48 edge after outscoring Alabama 16-13 in the quarter. Briggs accounted for seven of UF’s 13 points in the stanza, and Florida had opportunities to pad its advantage but made just two of nine from the charity stripe.

Smith drained a three-pointer to open the fourth and put the Gators in the lead by four. Out of a baseline out-of-bounds set, Zada Williams dropped it in to put UF ahead 54-48. Williams’ conversion would be Florida’s final basket before enduring a three-plus minute scoreless stretch. The Gators, who finished 8-of-21 from the free throw line, saw the Crimson Tide make the most of their trips to the line in the fourth, as Alabama netted eight of their 11 tries to help them pull away.

Faith Dut added four points and six rebounds for the Gators.

UA’s Jordan Lewis notched a team-high 15 points and corralled eight rebounds.

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UP NEXT
Sunday, Feb. 23, 4:00 p.m.
Florida (14-12, 5-8) vs. No. 22 Arkansas (21-5, 8-5)
Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center | Gainesville, Fla.

NOTABLES.

  • Lavender Briggs now has 22 double-figure scoring performances in her 25 games played as a collegiate.
  • She eclipsed the 20-point mark for the third time this season and second time in the last three games.
  • Nina Rickards drained multiple three-pointers for the fourth time this season, and they have all occurred during SEC play as she continues to lead the Gators in three-point percentage during league tilts.
  • Florida falls to 2-9 when trailing at the half.
  • UF hit five or more three-pointers for the 16th time this season. 
  • The Crimson Tide outscored Florida 36-30 in the paint.
  • The game featured 14 lead changes and 10 ties.
  • Both teams led for over 13 minutes in the game. 

QUOTABLES
Head Coach Cam Newbauer
Overall thoughts…
“We really just didn’t have the mental toughness to win a game like this tonight. We had the opportunities to, even when we clearly weren’t at our best, but couldn’t bounce back when we needed to. There were too many empty possessions, missed layups and free throws. We had to come out as the aggressor and we didn’t do it, but Alabama did exactly that, so we have to give them credit because they played well and they played aggressively for the entire game. We did at times, but not for a full 40 minutes and we have to do that if we are going to win on the road in the SEC. We weren’t resilient tonight, but we have another opportunity Sunday, and I look forward to seeing how we respond.”