Perfect Senior Day for Williams, Fleming and Gators

Florida’s unquestioned leader this season has been Ronni Williams, who scored 31 points and led the Gators to a 65-58 victory against Georgia on Sunday in the final home game of the 2016-17 season and of her illustrious career.

The Gators used a 15-6 run to close the game and secure their first win at home against Georgia since Feb. 19, 2012.

The victory also marked just the fourth time in the 70-game series between the two teams the Florida has won consecutive games. The last time the Gators earned back-to-back wins against their Southeastern Conference rivals was during the 2003-04 season.

Florida took the 76-68 decision in Athens on January 22.

In what has become a classic tight rivalry game where entering Sunday’s battle 15 of the last 16 meetings between the two teams have been decided by 11 points or less, this one followed that trend as it featured 11 tied scores and five lead changes.

Georgia held a 45-43 lead entering the fourth quarter but Williams scored the first points 28 seconds into the final frame. From there, the teams matched each other shot for shot over the next three minutes.

Georgia’s Pachis Roberts hit a three. Gator junior Brooke Copeland, who finished with 12 points, drilled one from beyond the arc.

Georgia converted two free throws. Williams followed with two from the line.

The Bulldogs hit an outside jumper. Gator senior Tyshara Fleming took a great feed from Copeland and finished inside to tie the game at 52 and 4:39 remaining.

That’s when the Gators altered the script.

Fleming broke up the back-and-forth scoring by coolly converting a pair of free throws with 4:01 remaining and gave the Gators their first lead since there was 2:58 left in the second quarter.

The Gators didn’t stop there, however, as the ‘Dawgs missed a pair of three-point attempts on their next trip down the court and Copeland finally gathered the defensive board. Williams came through for Florida on the other end and the Gator lead was 56-52 with exactly three minutes on the clock.

Georgia fouled a driving Delicia Washington who was on her way to the basket and instead made two from the free throw line, as Florida’s lead grew to six.

Roberts halted UF’s 8-0 run, before Williams struck again with another jumper 21 seconds later and the Gator lead was back to six with 1:42 to play.

Fleming, who finished with a game-high nine rebounds, grabbed a defensive board on the very next possession and Florida was again on the move offensively.

Williams provided the honors with a tough layup inside, as she would go on to score Florida’s final seven points in the last 58 seconds of the game en route to netting 13 points in the final quarter alone.

The fourth quarter alone had four tied scores and one lead change and that lead change was in favor of the Gators, who finally halted the back-and-forth scoring in the final five minutes of the game.

Updated Records

  • Florida: 14-15, 5-11 SEC
  • Georgia: 15-14, 7-9 SEC

Senior Salute

  • Sunday’s game was the final regular-season game, as well as the final home games for Gator seniors Ronni Williams & Tyshara Fleming.
  • Williams scored a game-high 31 points.
  • Fleming grabbed a game-high nine rebounds

Double-Digit Gators

  • Williams: 31 points (10-17 FG, 11-12 FT) – fourth game this year and in career with 30+ points; 13th game with 20+ points this season
  • Brooke Copeland: 12 points (4-10 FG, 3-8 3FG, 1-2 FT) – third double-figure scoring game this year, seventh of career

Top Scoring Lady Bulldog

  • Pachis Roberts was one of two Dawgs scoring in double-figures with 18 points

More Possible History for Williams

  • Ronni Williams entered Sunday’s game leading the SEC in scoring with 19.3 points per league game. She held a slight lead over Missouri’s Sophie Cunningham, who entered Sunday’s game against Alabama with a 19.1 points per game average.
  • After Sunday’s 31-point performance over Georgia, Williams ended the SEC season with a scoring average of 20.1 per league game.
  • No Gator has ever led the league in scoring – either overall or in league games.
  • Williams’ highlight game is a 43-point, 14-rebound performance against Vanderbilt (Jan. 29).
  • Entering Sunday’s action, Williams also led SEC players in all games with 18.7 points per game, just more than Cunningham’s 17.7 average.

Numbers of Note

  • Ten of UF’s last 12 games have been decided by 10 points or less.
  • Florida is 5-9 in games overall this year decided by 10 points or less this season, including 4-7 in SEC games.

Individual Numbers of Note

  • Williams grabbed the 800th rebound of her career during the third quarter and became just the ninth Gator to collect as many and score 1,400+ points in a career.
  • Delicia Washington grabbed her 150th rebound during the first quarter

Florida vs. Georgia: The Updated Series

  • 70-Game Series: UF trails 17-53 (UF Home: 11-23; Away: 6-28; Neutral: 0-2)
  • The Gators won this year’s meeting in Athens, 76-68, on January 22, halting Georgia’s three-game win streak in the series.
  • Trend: 16 of the last 17 meetings between the two teams have been decided by 11 points or less.

Gripping Gators

  • Over the previous three-plus seasons, the team has played a combined 59 games decided by 10 points or less, with a 31-28 record
  • In 2016-17, the Gators are 5-9 in games decided 10 points or less (4-7 SEC).

Quotes from the Court

 Florida Head Coach Amanda Butler

Opening Statement:

“This was an amazing win. You have to give Georgia a lot of credit for the way that they made the game look, but I could not be more proud of our upperclassmen and the way that they weathered the storms. They stayed together. They absolutely embodied the belief that Ronni (Williams) leads us with every day.

“It was just a terrific day for women’s basketball, of great SEC basketball and I’m really happy that we got to see more than one of those on our home floor.

“We had a fantastic crowd and that had a tremendous impact on us, in particular coming back from the lead (Georgia) built against us. It’s a special day in a lot of different ways. Our team really knew that this was about us and to make sure that we didn’t get off-script because we really wanted to honor our seniors and in the way that they deserved to be honored.”

Georgia Head Coach Joni Taylor

Opening Statement:

“I thought we did a really good job in the first and second quarter of not putting Florida on the free throw line, and then in the third and fourth we just came out and fouled too much. They were aggressive and that made a difference. But then you can’t turn the ball over that many times in the fourth quarter. They really didn’t pressure us too much, it was just our unforced turnovers that got us, and it’s really disappointing for us to not finish out what we started.”

On the play of Caliya Robinson:

“She was a little sick, but you know we’ve all had something going on this year. You’ve got to be tough and you’ve got to play through it. When she is not going for us, it makes it extremely tough. And then she got in foul trouble and she wasn’t as aggressive out there. Again, we’ve got to recover quickly and bounce back with our next opportunity.”

On Florida’s runs throughout the game:

“You know we go up 9 and then we come back and we give up a three to Brooke (Copeland) and then we foul. They get an offensive rebound, and then on our end we had a turnover. After that we had two shot clock violations. So it’s the same thing we talked about after the Alabama game, it’s empty possessions. I told them Friday when we met, eventually that’s going to catch up with us. We can’t play good teams in this league and think that we are going to get by continuing to do what we have done. We have got to learn from it, and get ready to go again. Florida is a good team though. I said it earlier, I’ll say it again, but they have had some tough circumstances this year but they have continued to play hard and fight hard. You have to give Amanda credit for what she has done and those kids credit for not giving up.”

On finishing the season strong:

“We have played well this month, but this one game truly is disappointing. You never want to lose, and you definitely don’t want to lose to the Gators. But that does not diminish what these kids have done for this month. Like you said, we have to recover quickly and get back and go play inspired basketball next week.”

What’s Next for the Gators

  • Following Sunday’s game, Florida will travel to Greenville, S.C., to compete in the SEC Tournament.
  • The complete SEC Tournament bracket will be unveiled later Sunday after the conclusion of the two league games that tip-off at 5 p.m. ET.
  • All 14 teams play in the event that begins with two first-round games on Wed., March 1 at 11 a.m.
  • Each of the first three rounds will be televised by SEC Network with Courtney Lyle and Tamika Catchings calling the action for the ‘day’ games and Pam Ward pairs with Gail Goestenkors to call the ‘Night’ games. Gator great Steffi Sorensen will be the sideline analyst/reporter for every game.

Gator Pronunciations for this Release:

  • TYSHARA Fleming: tie-SHEER-uh
  • DELICIA Washington: duh-LEE-shuh


UF’s Postgame Press Conference:

Game Highlights:

ESPNU Recap:

Final Stats (PDF):

Photo Gallery:

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