Gators Battle No. 15 Missouri to Final Buzzer

In a game that featured 10 lead changes and six tied scores, Florida matched No. 15 Missouri possession-for-possession and even had the ball with a chance to win it but a three-pointer at the buzzer fell short in a 66-64 loss at Mizzou Arena Monday evening.

The Gators defense held the Tigers (18-5, 6-4 SEC) without a score in the final minute and got the ball back with 12.1 seconds remaining. Florida set up for the final shot, but Mizzou’s defense gave the Gators fits and forced Haley Lorenzen to launch a deep three as the final horn sounded.

Florida held a lead in all four quarters with its last a 55-54 edge with 7:07 remaining. Six consecutive points by Jordan Frericks, who finished with 18 for the game, pushed MU’s lead to five, 60-55, with 5:23 on the clock.

Funda Nakkasoglu followed with a pair of free throws with 4:34 on the clock and the teams traded scores for the remainder of the game. Nakkasoglu did halt the trend of exchanging exact points when she drained a three-pointer with 61 seconds left that put Florida within two.

That’s when MU held possession but wasn’t able to score and the ball went to the Gators with 12.1 on the clock and a chance to tie or win the game. Instead, Florida (10-13, 2-8 SEC) dropped to 4-8 in games decided by 10 points or less, including a tough 1-6 mark in Southeastern Conference games.

Delicia Washington scored a season-high 23 points on an efficient 7-of-15 night overall that included 3-of-8 from three and 6-of-6 from the line.

Paulilna Hersler scored 12 of her 14 points in the first half that ended in a 32-all tie.

Dyandria Anderson scored all of her 12 points during the second half, when she connected on a trio of threes that included successful four-point-play.

Lorenzen contributed 10 rebounds, eight points with three assists.

What Led the Final Minutes

Washington came out of halftime with a quick steal and an uncontested layup that gave Florida a 34-32 lead. The teams traded scored for the next 1:27 before Anderson completed a four-point-play and the Gators took the 38-34 edge.

After yet another bucket from Cierra Porter, who finished with a game-high 27 points, Anderson drilled her second three within 67 seconds and Florida’s lead was five, 41-36, with 7:41 remaining in the third quarter.

Back-to-back scores by Mizzou had the Tigers within two and teams traded scores for the next minute before the hosts ripped off the next six points, all from Frericks, that resulted in a 47-45 UM advantage with 1:19 remaining in the third.

Early On

Missouri jumped out behind the three-ball for a quick six-point edge and Florida wouldn’t it let grow any larger than that, countering each bucket with one of their own. The Gators cut their deficit to one point after five straight points from Hersler, but the Tigers responded with a 7-2 march and regained the six-point advantage with 7:38 left in the second.

Florida then rallied with a 9-2 run and took a 27-24 lead with 4:03 remaining in the period. Washington scored six points during that spurt, while Hersler added the other five.

MU scored the next three points and evened the score before Washington’s three kept the Gators in the lead with 1:25 remaining in the half.

The teams went back and forth the rest of the half with Porter completing a three-point-play with 18 seconds remaining to tie the score heading into the locker room.

Quotes from the Court – UF Coach Cameron Newbauer

“I’m tremendous proud of our fight and team effort. I couldn’t ask for anything more from our team right now. They played their guts out. We wanted to play that out there at the end. We believe we have a play we can run and get something out of. In hindsight, there at the end, we probably should have called a timeout with maybe four seconds to go but I wanted to let them make the play and I’ll take that one.

“I could not be more proud of this group and their fight tonight on the road against a top-15 team.”

On the starting five

“I’m just so proud of them. Delicia continues to improve with her pace. Dria’s (Anderson) confidence to keep her eye on the rim and keep shooting. We made big plays when we had to and made stops. I’m just very, very proud of our team.”

On holding MU’s leading scorer Sophie Cunningham to 10 points

“They made some adjustments to how we were guarding them. (Sophie) Cunningham is really good inside and they took advantage of some mismatches and she did a good job of passing out of them. They did a really good job of switching late and they gave us some problems.”

Individual Numbers

  • Washington’s 23 points led the Gators in scoring, the first time she has been the team’s game scoring leader this season
  • Hersler connected on her 35th, 36th and 37th three-pointer of the season during the game, passing her entire 97-game total of 35 at UCLA
  • Nakkasoglu hit a three-pointer in her 16th consecutive game
  • Among Anderson’s 12 points, all of which she scored in the second half, included a four-point-play
  • Tameria Johnson played 10 minutes in the first half alone, marking a career-best minutes played in an entire SEC game

Numbers of Note

  • This marked Florida’s 12th game decided by 10 points or less (4-8 overall and 1-6 mark in SEC games)
  • With nine more three-pointers on Monday, the Gators have totaled 196 treys in 23 games this season – the third most overall in program history.
  • Gators were tied at halftime for the first time this season (32-32)
  • Florida dropped to 0-7 all-time against Missouri
  • Florida is in the midst of a six-game stretch against nationally-ranked opponents. The Gators play host to No. 2 Mississippi State on Thursday in Gainesville
  • The Gators are 0-5 this year versus ranked opponents

What’s Next for the Gators

  • Florida has a quick turnaround for playing host to No. 2 Mississippi State on Thursday at Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.
  • In a rematch of last year’s NCAA championship game, the Bulldogs (24-0, 10- SEC) defeated No. 7 South Carolina, 67-53, on Monday and remained atop the SEC standings and one of two undefeated NCAA Division I women’s basketball teams in the country.

Gator Pronunciations for this Release:

  • DYANDRIA Anderson: dee-ANN-dree-uh
  • TAMERIA Johnson: tah-MEIR-ee-uh
  • FUNDA NAKKASOGLU: FOON-da knock-ah-SO-glue
  • DELICIA Washington: duh-LEE-shuh


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