Florida Falls in SEC Opener, 74-67 at Alabama

Despite a strong start and a balanced scoring attack, the University of Florida women’s basketball team fell 74-67 Thursday evening to Alabama in its 2018-19 SEC opener at Coleman Coliseum.
Funda Nakkasoglu finished with 18 points, including 13 in the second half, but the Gators were unable to hold on despite holding a double-digit lead. Zada Williams, registering 10 or more points for the fifth time in her last seven games, added 11 off the UF bench while Delicia Washington stuffed the stat sheet with eight points, eight rebounds a season-best six assists.
Seven Gators finished with five or more points and a total of nine Florida players scored in the game, including Danielle Rainey who scored eight points on a pair of three-pointers.

The game saw eight lead changes and five ties and Florida led for over 23 minutes in the contest.
After trailing 61-55 midway through the fourth, Florida battled back with eight-straight points to jump ahead 63-61 with 3:56 remaining in the game. From this point forward, Alabama would close the game on a 13-6 run to deny Florida’s bid to snap a four-game slide in SEC openers.

Florida won the rebounding battle, 40-35 and held the edge in terms of bench scoring, 30-7.

Facing an early 5-4 deficit, Florida then rattled off 17-straight points and ended the first quarter on a 21-3 run to earn a commanding 25-8 lead. Florida got off to a scorching start connecting on nine of its first 20 shots and eight different players scored for UF in the first 10 minutes, including Williams and Ariel Johnson who both registered six. 

The Gators carried their momentum into the early stages of the second, building their largest lead at 29-9 with 6:50 remaining in the frame. But Alabama would storm back with a pair of scoring runs, at 9-0 and 7-0, respectively, to quickly slice into the Florida lead. The Gators maintained a double-digit advantage for the majority of the second period but saw the Tide catch fire late in the second to trim the gap to just 37-30 heading into the break.

Alabama scored five-straight points to conclude the half including a three-pointer off the fingertips of Cierra Johnson as the horn sounded.

After its run to end the first half, Alabama scored the first six points of the second to shrink the UF lead to just 37-36 early in the third. After a Williams’ free throw snapped a lengthy scoreless stretch for the Gators, Alabama connected on a three-pointer on the ensuing possession to give it its first lead since it was 5-4, as the Crimson Time claimed a 39-38 edge with 6:18 in the third. Alabama held a 44-39 lead at the media timeout, but UF countered with a 10-0 scoring burst to grab a 49-44 lead late in the stanza. The Crimson Tide then scored seven-straight points, capped off by another buzzer-beating shot from Johnson, to carry a 51-49 lead heading into the third.

Facing their largest deficit at 61-55 with 6:22 remaining in the fourth, Nakkasoglu and Washington knocked down crucial three-pointers to help bring the Gators back to tie. UF connected on five three-pointers in the fourth but couldn’t crack through in the latter moments of the game as Crimson Tide held on for their ninth win of the season.

Alabama’s Jasmine Walker scored a game-best 23 points, including five three-pointers, and Johnson finished with 19.

The Gators return to Gainesville to host Auburn in their 2018-19 SEC home opener on Sunday, Jan. 6.


  • Florida and Alabama met for the 59th time and the Crimson Tide improve to 31-28 in the all time series.
  • Florida connected on 12 three-pointers on the game, its first outing with double-digit three-pointers since Dec. 2 vs. Texas Tech.
  • Florida outrebounded Alabama, 40-35, marking the eighth time the Gators have outrebounded their opponent.
  • UF led at the half for the ninth time this season.
  • Funda Nakkasoglu finished with 10 or more points for the 10th time this season.
  • Nakkasoglu finished with four three-pointers, marking the fifth time this season she has knocked down at least four triples and her third time doing so in as many games.
  • Delicia Washington added a season-high six assists.
  • After outscoring Alabama 30-7, UF’s bench is outscoring opponents 267-167 on the season and the Gators have held the edge in terms of bench production in nine games. 
  • After just one game with at least 12 assists through its first six games, Florida has racked up 12 or more assists in six of its last eight games and has registered 10 or more in four-straight games.
  • The Gators racked up 10 steals, their second-highest total of the season.


On the team’s fast start
“We got off to a great start. We knew we were going to get open looks, and when they went down we had the lead, and then when we stopped hitting shots we just didn’t zone in on defense like we needed to and gave up some untimely miscues. That’s the thing, in the SEC, you have to keep playing defense and stick with it, it’s part of it.”
On factors that led to Alabama’s comeback
“We knew they were going to push the ball and we knew they were going to try to do some different things to score because we were controlling the tempo. They’re an SEC-caliber team so we knew they weren’t going to sit down after they trailed 25-8. If you don’t keep hitting shots, teams like that are going to chip away at it and we just didn’t responded as well as we needed to. This was a great learning experience for us.”
On aspects of the game to build on and shifting the focus to Sunday’s game
“We hit 12 three-pointers and had some other good looks that just didn’t go down. We just have to keep plugging away and fighting. We had great fight tonight, but just had a couple moments that got us at the wrong time. We have a big game Sunday with Auburn coming in and just need to keeping fighting and focusing on getting better.”

Up Next
Florida (4-10, 0-1) vs. Auburn (12-2, 0-1)
Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center | Gainesville, Fla.

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