Gators Win Thriller for First SEC Home Victory


Game Highlights:

Game Recap:

UF Postgame Presser:

Six of Florida’s last seven games have been decided by single digits and tonight’s finally ended in favor of the Gators, who topped Arkansas, 57-53, and capped its mini two-game home stand at Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center Thursday evening.

Senior Ronni Williams scored 13 of her team-high 15 points in the second half to go along with 12 rebounds for the 20th double-double of her career. Junior Haley Lorenzen added 14 points, while freshman Sydney Morang tied her career-best of 12 points, all coming from beyond the arc.

Arkansas used a 12-0 run over a 2:09 span early in the third quarter that flipped a 30-23 Gator lead into a 35-30 Razorback advantage. Florida committed four turnovers during that span and couldn’t even attempt a shot, as Arkansas assumed its largest lead of the game to that point and forced a Gator timeout with 5:35 remaining in the quarter.

Florida regrouped and ended the third on a 9-3 run – that included the final seven points with Dyandria Anderson drilling a three-pointer – and held a 39-38 lead entering the final frame.

The Razorbacks scored the first four points of the fourth quarter before Morang hit a three that tied the score at 42 and sparked a 9-0 Gator run with Williams netting four points and Lorenzen two.

The teams traded buckets for the next minute-plus before both teams went cold from the floor, the scoring drought lasting two minutes and 34 seconds. Arkansas broke free first and cut Florida’s deficit to two points, 50-48, with 1:47 remaining.

Lorenzen followed with a jumper from the corner, but Jessica Jackson, who finished with a game-high 17 points, came back and scored 15 seconds later, as the it remaining a two-point game with 61 seconds to go.

Both teams had fouls to give before the bonus and that took time off the clock.

Williams broke the trend and scored a fall-away for a 54-50 lead and 44 seconds to go.

Arkansas’ Jailyn Mason needed just 10 seconds to nail a three-pointer and Florida’s lead was trimmed to one.

Arkansas fouled again twice and then forced a Florida turnover when the Gators were trying to in-bound the ball with 20 seconds remaining.

Jackson’s layup didn’t fall and Dyandria Anderson scrambled to the floor for the loose ball and corralled it before being fouled. She stepped to the line and coolly sank both free throw attempts for a 56-53 lead and seven seconds to go.

Anderson then came up with a steal and was fouled with 2.2 seconds to play. She missed the first, but hit the second to give Florida then 57-53 lead and the win.

First-Half Momentum Shifts

It wasn’t a pretty offensive game during the first quarter, as the teams shot a combined 8-for-30 from the floor (26 percent). Florida, however, regrouped from a slow start and converted 6-of-15 during that opening frame for a 16-5 lead.

Williams scored the first points of the second quarter and Florida’s lead grew to 13 points (18-5).

Arkansas outscored the Gators, 16-5, the rest of the half, including a layup with two seconds remaining after the Gators turned the ball over with seven ticks left trying to work the clock during the final possession.

That sequence essentially negated all of Florida’s positive beginning and Arkansas carried that momentum into the second half.

Updated Records

  • Florida: 12-12, 3-8 SEC
  • Arkansas: 13-11, 2-9 SEC

 Double-Digit Gators

  • Ronni Williams: 15 points, 12 rebounds; 20th career double-double, seventh this year
  • Haley Lorenzen: 14 points (18th double-figure scoring game this year; 36th of career)
  • Sydney Morang: 12 points (4-8 3FG) – tied career-high; second double-figure scoring game of career

Double-Digit Razorbacks

  • Jessica Jackson: 17 points, 7 rebounds
  • Jailyn Mason: 13 points
  • Devin Cosper: 10 points

Numbers of Note

  • Florida held the 42-31 rebounding advantage that included 17 offensive boards.
  • The Gators committed 25 turnovers that Arkansas converted into 27 points.
  • The last time Florida won a game scoring 57 or fewer points was Feb. 28, 2016, when the Gators defeated Auburn 56-49 in Gainesville.
  • Aside from provided Florida’s final three points from the free throw line with seven seconds remaining that iced the game, Dyandria Anderson finished with six points, seven assists, seven rebounds and four steals.

No Place for the Weak this Week

  • Florida plays three games in seven days this week.
  • The Gators opened the seven-day span with a home loss to Ole Miss on Monday, Feb. 6.
  • Florida will hit the road after Thursday’s game and play at Alabama on Sunday.

Florida vs. Arkansas: The Updated Series

  • 35-Game Series: UF leads 26-9 (UF Home: 12-3; Away: 10-5; Neutral: 4-1)
  • Trend: Nine of the last 12 games in the series have been decided by single digits.
  • Florida has won the last three games against Arkansas, as well as five straight at home.

Gripping Gators

  • Over the previous three-plus seasons, the team has played a combined 55 games decided by 10 points or less, with a 29-26 record.
  • In 2016-17, the Gators are 3-7 in games decided 10 points or less (2-5 SEC).

Quotes from the Court

Florida Head Coach Amanda Butler

Opening Statement:

“You know, you try to predict what teams are going to do at the end of games. We spend a part of practice every day working on our specials and what we think their specials are, and tonight that paid off. I think our kids had a lot of defensive confidence because we ran through some of those scenarios. Those upperclassmen stepped up and made plays, in particular Dyandria (Anderson) getting her hands on a lot of passes. The great victory in the fourth quarter was that we weren’t in foul trouble so we had some fouls to give. We were able to manipulate the clock just a little bit there and keep them from getting a good look and going straight in to what they wanted to do. But overall, a great win in front of an awesome home crowd!”

On the play of Ronni Williams tonight:

“She was beasting on the boards. I thought she played a very mature game because I think she had two points at halftime but she had nine rebounds. And if we don’t rebound the basketball like that then we are not in the same position going into halftime, especially with the poor job we did in protecting the ball tonight. That’s something that we have got to get better at.”

On the rebounding battle tonight:

“That is part of what we do. That’s one of the things that I think our kids really understand. We say all the time- we are going to keep doing the right things and the right things will eventually happen, and we know rebounding effort is something that is a ‘right thing’ for us and it has to be there every single night. With some of those plays down at the end, rebounds are what seals the victory.”

On the defensive strategy of the last few possessions:

“Well defensively we were just trying to keep them in front of us. We were going to switch ball screens and try to maintain that position. At the same time, we tried not to help off too much because they can really shoot it, as they showed us. But it was more than anything a lot of defensive cohesiveness and a lot of confidence in what they prepared for.”

On the team’s confidence moving forward in the SEC season:

“One of the things that is amazing about this team is that despite so many close losses, I don’t think they’ve ever lost confidence. They haven’t lost confidence in each other, they haven’t lost confidence in game plans, they haven’t lost confidence ultimately in knowing and believing how good they are. I think that is really a testament to our leadership and our upperclassmen.”

On winning as a team:

“It was a fantastic team win. It certainly isn’t the way we like to win. 57 points is more in Arkansas’ favor instead of Florida’s favor, we typically score in the 70s. But when you turn the ball over that many times, you limit your opportunities. But frankly, we don’t care. We won. And we’re going to celebrate this and then get ready to go play a very tough Alabama team.”

Arkansas Head Coach Jimmy Dykes

“We lost the game. It was ridiculous how we lost the game. We turned the ball over like that with the game on the line with five or six minutes to go. You are in a league that is not going to allow you to do that. It’s disappointing because we should have won the game again tonight. But to not turn the ball over, not have a box off, not go hard to the rim with the game on the line, at least get yourself to the free throw line, play you have got to make we didn’t make, that’s as simple as we can put it. We talked about it as a staff, we talked about it in the locker room right now; they have to take it to heart and find a way to finish a game like that. You have to have toughness to close out ball games and we did not have the toughness to close out the game tonight.

“Florida had 17 offensive rebounds with about a minute thirty to go Ronni Williams and 44 (Haley Lorenzen), those two kids had big offensive rebounds between them. It’s things you can’t do. We drill it and just missed a box off. I am not going to say who it was but you’ve got to be tough enough to get a box off with the game on the line. We didn’t do it. We go on the road and hold them to 57 points. I don’t know what they shot maybe 35, 36 percent. Our defense was good enough to win the game. I mean we shot 36 percent, which for us is pretty good but you can’t make the mistakes we did down the stretch and get beat on the boards by 11. It’s going to happen to you, we don’t like it at all.”

 What’s Next for the Gators

  • UF caps its hectic three-game week with a trip to Tuscaloosa, where the Gators play Alabama on Sun., February 12 at 2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. CT.
  • The Tide have returned to play at home games this year at Coleman Coliseum.
  • The game will be televised live on SEC Network with Roy Philpott and Brooke Weisbrod.

 Gator Pronunciations for this Release:

  • DYANDRIA Anderson: dee-ANN-dree-uh
  • Sydney MORANG: mur-RANG (like meringue pie)

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