Gators Come Up Just Short of No. 7 South Carolina

Funda Nakkasoglu scored 21 points to lead three Gators in double-figure scoring and Florida came up just short of upsetting No. 7 and reigning NCAA champion South Carolina, which took the 64-57 decision at Colonial Life Arena on Sunday.

This was Florida’s eighth game against Southeastern Conference opponents decided by 10 points or less, as the Gators dropped to a heartbreaking 1-7 in those tight ballgames, as well as 4-9 overall in nail biters this year.

The game was tied at halftime and Florida trailed by just four entering the fourth quarter and the Gators (10-15, 2-10 SEC) battled until the final buzzer in front of 15,385 Gamecocks fans.

Haley Lorenzen added 13 points, while Dyandria Anderson added 10 points with six rebounds. Delicia Washington just missed a double-double, recording eight points and 11 rebounds along with six assists.

Paulina Herser also hit the glass hard, pulling down nine and helped Florida win the rebounding battle against the taller hosts, 39-38.


How it Happened

South Carolina scored the first eight points of the second half before Funda Nakkasoglu knocked down a three-pointer and brought the Gators back within five points, 38-33.

The teams traded buckets for the next couple of minutes, as the Gamecocks’ lead grew to 10 points with 2:29 on the clock.

Dyandria Anderson then canned a three in front of the Gator bench and Nakkasoglu drilled her fourth from deep and brought the Gators within four, 45-41, with 1:37 remaining.

Florida held the ball for the final shot of the quarter and it was just off the mark, as the Gators were down four points entering the final quarter.

South Carolina (20-5, 9-3 SEC) turned to the long ball for the final period, connecting on 3-of-5, each of which came at timely moments when Florida was making a move.

The Gators cut a nine-point deficit to four after Lorenzen’s bucket and Nakkasoglu’s three with 6:56 remaining. SC countered with a pair of free throws and a three from Tyasha Harris, who knocked down two during the fourth quarter.

Those points ignited a 10-2 run that lifted SC to its largest lead of the game, 62-50, with 3:06 remaining.

The Gators, however, continued to fight.

Lorenzen dropped in a three-pointer and followed with a tough inside bucket. Nakkasoglu followed with a layup and Florida was back within five points, 62-57, with 10 seconds to go.

A’ja Wilson, who finished with a game-high 22 points, capped the scoring with a bucket inside and the time ran out on Florida’s final comeback push.


Fantastic First

Florida showed terrific scoring balance during the first half, when five Gators got on the scoreboard, but none hitting more than seven points. Both Paulina Hersler and Dyandria Anderson dropped in seven apiece.

With South Carolina using a 9-2 run to take an 18-13 lead with 8:01 remaining in the second quarter, the Gators mounted a 15-0 spree over the next 3:25 of the game to take a 28-18 lead, capped by Funda Nakkasoglu’s second three-pointer of the game.

The Gamecocks responded with a 10-0 march, during when the Gators turned the ball over four times.

Delicia Washington halted the spree with a 15-foot jumper after three hustle offensive rebounds and the Gators recaptured the lead, 30-28 with 10 seconds left.

A’ja Wilson, who tallied a game-high 10 first-half points, dropped in the final bucket of the period just before the buzzer and the teams entered the lockerroom tied at 30.


Individual Numbers of Note

  • Haley Lorenzen started the 99th game of her career – only nine Gators have ever started 100 games
  • Funda Nakkasoglu connected on a three-pointer marking the 18th consecutive game with at least one trey and tied Sha Brooks (2007) for the fifth-longest streak in program history
  • Paulina Hersler finished the game with 165 rebounds in 25 games this season, topping her combined 97-game career total of 163 at UCLA
  • Dyandria Anderson collected the 150th steal of her career


News and Numbers of Note

  • Overall this season, the Gators have played 13 games decided by 10 points or less (4-9 record overall, 1-7 SEC).
  • South Carolina represented the seventh ranked opponent Florida has played this season, including the fifth consecutive ranked foe.
  • The Gators played both of last year’s national finalists in back-to-back games, having hosted Mississippi State Thursday.


Quotes from UF Coach Cameron Newbauer

Opening comments on the game:

“I’m so proud. I couldn’t ask for anything more from our group. We’ve been staying the course, had a game plan and they stuck with it. We did everything we could have. We executed, got great looks. Their size and athleticism effected some shots late. Overall, we got everything we wanted. Defensively, they did what they had to do, which was score from the perimeter and that’s what we wanted.

“I just can’t say enough about our group. We outrebounded them by one and we were down at the half in the rebounding area. We were plus-three on the assist-to-turnovers. It was such a great effort, a strong, tough fight for us and that brings me joy.”


What’s Next for the Gators

  • Florida continues it torrid season-ending schedule, next traveling to College Station to play No. 14 Texas A&M on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT.

Gator Pronunciations for this Release:

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


Links of Note:


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