Florida Rolls to 57-55 Win Over Alabama

Delicia Washington’s pull-up jumper with 15 seconds left proved to be the game-winning basket as the University of Florida women’s basketball team battled to a 57-55 victory over visiting Alabama Thursday night at Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

The Gators who trailed by as many as nine in the second half, outscored the Crimson Tide 20-14 in the fourth quarter to help them snap a five-game slide.

Funda Nakkasoglu’s play was key in Florida’s come-from-behind victory as the redshirt-senior poured in a game-high 20 points, including 13 in the second half. Nakkasoglu, registering a point total of at least 20 for the 10th time this season, knocked down four 3-pointers including a perfect 3-of-3 performance in the fourth quarter. The Australian scored 11 of Florida’s 20 fourth quarter points. 

Washington, who has now scored the game-winning basket in back-to-back Florida victories, finished with seven points and nine rebounds while Danielle Rainey scored 12 for the Gators. Rainey, who scored 10 points in the first half, recorded double-digit points for the third time in four games.

Sophomore Kiki Smith hauled in a career-high 11 rebounds and dished out a game-high four assists. Smith’s 11th rebound proved to be a critical one as it set up Washington’s eventual late game heroics.

The Gators trailed 45-39 with 6:56 remaining but outscored Alabama 18-10 the rest of the way to propel them to their sixth victory at home this season. After a 16-6 run allowed Florida to earn a 55-51 advantage with under two minutes remaining, Alabama scored four straight to knot the score at 55-55. The Gators had the ball with under a minute to play and after a missed three-pointer by Rainey retained possession thanks to a timely rebound from Smith. After the offensive rebound, Washington ended up with the ball at the top of the key. With the defense sagging off, the junior guard calmly took a few dribbles and pulled up from just outside the free throw line where she drained a jumper to put the Gators ahead with 15 seconds remaining.

After a Crimson Tide timeout, Alabama’s Cierra Johnson’s attempted a floater with two seconds left to try to tie it, but her shot bounced off of the back of the rim and out. Johnson finished with 15 to lead the Crimson Tide and Megan Abrams added 11 to round out UA’s duo of double-digit scorers.

The Gators knocked down 10-of-31 from distance as they finished with the double-digit treys for the third-straight game against Alabama.

Alabama scored 40 points in the paint compared to Florida’s 16 but the Gators scored 30 points off three-pointers while Alabama registered just nine such points.

Florida closed on a 6-2 run but faced as 13-12 deficit after the first quarter had expired. Rainey got off to a strong start scoring Florida’s first four points.

The Crimson Tide scored the first six points of the second quarter to grab a 19-12 lead which prompted a Gator timeout. Florida then rattled off three-pointers on three-straight possessions to cut the lead to just 22-21. After the barrage of long distance shots, Florida went cold and missed its next nine shots. Alabama carried a narrow lead into the half at 26-23 as Rainey led all scorers with 10 points. The TCU transfer connected on four of her eight attempts in the first 20 minutes of play and hit two of her four three-point attempts.

After Florida scored four straight to knot the score at 30-30 early in the third, the Crimson Tide utilized a 9-0 run to jump ahead 39-30 with under four minutes to play in the frame. Washington scored on a tip in to snap the run and break a drought of nearly four minutes without a field goal.

Alabama led 41-37 heading into the fourth as it outscored the Gators 15-14 in the third.

Alabama outscored Florida in every quarter but the final one as Florida shot 53.8 percent in the fourth and drilled four of its six 3-point attempts.

The game saw four ties and five lead changes as the Gators avenged their 74-67 loss to the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa in their conference opener back on Jan. 3.

Florida overcame a halftime deficit for just the second time this season. 

Freshman Ariel Johnson added nine points off the bench, recording three 3-point field goals. 

Up Next
Sunday, Feb. 10 | Noon
Florida (6-17, 2-8) at Georgia (13-9, 4-5)
Stegeman Coliseum Center | Athens, Ga.


  • Thursday marked the 60th meeting between the Gators and Crimson Tide.
  • Zada Williams earned her fifth starting nod of the season and her first since Dec. 9 vs. FAMU.
  • Florida featured its ninth starting lineup of the season.
  • Ariel Johnson hit a three-pointer for the third-straight game.
  • Danielle Rainey (12 points) has scored in double-figures in five of her last seven games.
  • Funda Nakkasoglu has scored 20 or more points 10 times this season.
  • Kiara Smith finished with 11 rebounds, setting a new career high.
  • Florida held Alabama, which came into today’s match averaging 66.3 points per game, 11 points below its average. This is the 13th time this season that the Gators have held their opponent below their average and the 11th time they’ve held their opponent below 65.
  • Florida won a game in which in trailed at the half for just the second time this season.
  • Florida’s bench outscored Alabama’s 16-10, marking the 14th game this season that the Gator’s bench has outscored their opponent’s reserves.
  • Florida finished with 10 three-point baskets, the seventh time this season scoring double digit three-pointers.
  • Florida attempted four free throws, marking a season low.

Head Coach Cam Newbauer

Opening Statement…
 “It feels great to get a win. It was much needed and well deserved. Just the way we fought in the fourth quarter, the only quarter that anybody scored 20 in. You look at some of the big-time shots that we made and that’s just a matter of our resolve. We didn’t shoot well as a team for the game, but we have been employing our ladies to continue to stay aggressive and confident in their abilities, and that’s what we saw tonight in the fourth quarter. More importantly, our defense and rebounding (were big). We did a nice job of getting stops when we had to have them. They had 40 points in the paint and we knew that that was going to be tough to defend. I’m just really proud of the toughness and grit we showed down the stretch to get a W.”

On Delicia Washington’s game-winning shot…
“Delicia and I had spoken earlier, and they (Alabama) were daring her to shoot tonight. I told her in the fourth quarter that they were playing off of her. She’s really good with that one dribble-jumper if she gets her feet set. They left her open at the top of the key and she made them pay for it.”

On what he’s most proud of…
“The team effort on both ends of the court. It’s not just the shots that were made, but the defensive presence we had. I thought we did a good job mixing things up on defense. I remember the great hustle play Funda had late in the game where she dives on the floor for the ball. It’s just that constant pursuit of trying to win the game.”

On message to team going into fourth quarter…
“I was just trying to get us to stay the course with a lot of time left. I told them that at some point our shots were going to go in and we are due. We work too hard each day in practice, you know, we are due. Just keep your eyes on the rim, stay focused and keep shooting. It’s just a testament to our resolve and the confidence (we have).”

Redshirt-Senior Guard Funda Nakkasoglu
On the team’s win…
“It’s amazing. All the hard work has finally paid off. We’ve been really close in the other games but we just haven’t been able to get over that hump. I’m just really glad for our team and our coaches and our program.”

Junior Guard Delicia Washington
On shooting the game-winning despite a miscue on the previous possession…
“You got to move onto the next play. That’s something that Cam says all the time. Go to the next play and just be aggressive with the next thing that you do. I knew I made a mistake but I just had to get back on defense and do it for my teammates.”

Sophomore Guard Danielle Rainey
On her confidence…
“I’m taking it game by game. Not being able to play the whole season last year, I thought that was going cause a hiccup in my confidence but my coaches and my teammates they always push me every game. They are always in my ear telling me to focus on what I can do through the game and not focus on what I just did and what I can’t do. The positivity that I’m surrounded by, I really think helps me focus on when I miss a shot, I come back and redeem it. It’s all for them.”

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