Gators Break Through for Win in Final Seconds

Delicia Washington’s layup with 2.2 seconds remaining proved to be the game winner as the University of Florida women’s basketball team erased 14-point deficit and earned a 58-56 win over Missouri Sunday afternoon at Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
Florida held a lead just twice in the game, once when it was 2-0 and again when Washington sliced through the lane and finished among several defenders to cap off an incredible Gator comeback. The Gators trailed 56-48 with 2:47 remaining, but scored 10-straight points to secure their first conference victory and snap a three-game skid.
UF, who has won five of its last six games at the O’Connell Center, featured four in double figures paced by Danielle Rainey who erupted for a career-best 16 points while Washington finished with 11 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Kiki Smith, adding a double-digit point total for the third straight game, notched 10 and Zada Williams registered 10 of her own off the Gator bench.
Florida, who trailed by as many 12 in the fourth quarter, outscored Missouri 22-11 in the final period as it registered its highest fourth quarter point total since Dec. 2 vs. Texas Tech.

After Missouri scored to make it 53-41 with 7:18 remaining in regulation, Florida had its backs up against the wall and the Tigers looked destined to leave Gainesville with their seventh-straight win. But Rainey, who drained five 3-pointers on the day, connected on a crucial one to bring the Gators back to within single digits and ignite what finished as a 17-3 run to close the game.
Following Rainey’s triple, Florida scored four-straight points as Washington and Williams took advantage of their trips to the line to continue to slice into the Missouri lead. UF trailed now just 53-48 but saw Missouri score three-straight to make it a three-possession game again after Cierra Porter split a pair at the charity stripe. Missouri led 56-48 with under three minutes to play.
Freshman Ariel Johnson, who finished with only five points in the game, hit one of the biggest shots of the contest when she drilled a three-pointer to get the Gators back within two possessions and to spark what eventually was a 10-0 closing run.
After knocking down one of two attempts at the line, Washington pulled the Gators to within four at 56-52 with 1:43 remaining. On the inbounds pass, the Gator press forced a turnover as Washington deflected the ball to Johnson who returned it right back to her teammate for an easy layup. Facing just a two-point deficit, Florida got the stop it needed on Missouri’s next possession to have a chance to tie or take the lead with just over a minute remaining. As the shot clock began to tick down, Smith drove the lane and drew contact to earn a trip to the line. The sophomore calmly knocked them both down to tie the game at 56-56 with 47 seconds to play. Washington then picked the pocket of Missouri’s Haley Troup on the next possession to give Florida a chance to win it with 26 seconds on the clock. With the ball at the top of the key, Washington and the Gators ran the clock down to its final seconds before the junior guard waded through the right side of the lane and laid it in off the glass to finish off Florida’s improbable comeback bid.
Florida’s 14-point comeback was its largest of the season and it claimed a win after trailing at the half for the first time this season.
Missouri made five of its last six shots in the second period to carry a 30-21 edge into the intermission. The Gators shrunk the Missouri lead to just 20-18 midway through the stanza, but then struggled to score, registering just one field goal in the final 4:40 of the first half. Missouri connected on 12 of its first 28 shots which included five first half three-pointers. Rainey led all Gators with seven points at the break as the TCU transfer scored seven-straight during a stretch to keep UF within striking distance.
The Tigers began the second half on fire as they connected on three of their first four three-pointers to grow their lead to as large as 14. A three-pointer off the hands of Missouri’s Jordan Roundtree gave it a 41-27 lead with 5:40 remaining in the third. After facing a double-digit deficit for most of the third quarter, Florida scored the frame’s four final points to cut the lead to just 45-36 heading into the fourth.
Defense and rebounding were key factors for Florida as it held Missouri 10 points under its season average and outrebounded the Tigers, 32-30. In addition, the Gators held Preseason All-SEC selection Sophie Cunningham to just four points on the evening and didn’t allow any Missouri player to total more than nine points.’

Roundtree and Amber Smith each scored nine to pace Missouri. 


  • Danielle Rainey set a new career high with 16 points, her first game in double figures in her collegiate career. All of her field goals consisted of three-point shots and she joins Funda Nakkasoglu as the only Gator to record five or more three-point buckets in a game this season.
  • Sunday marked the Gator’s first conference win since February 18, 2018 when it defeated Vanderbilt 88-71.
  • Sunday’s win marks the first time in the series history that Florida has defeated Missouri. The Gators were previously 0-7 against the Tigers.
  • For the 10th time this season, Florida held its opponent under their season average.
  • Florida’s 14-point comeback is its largest of the season.
  • UF has won five of its last six home games.
  • The Gators featured four double-digit point scorers for the first time since Dec. 5 vs. Bethune-Cookman.
  • In all five Florida wins it has outrebounded its opponent.
  • Five of the eight matchups between the Gators and Tigers have been decided by seven or fewer points.
  • Florida’s bench outscored Missouri 33-26. This marks the 11th time this season that the Gator bench has outscored the opponent’s reserves.

Head Coach Cam Newbauer

Opening Statement
“That was fun. This was an incredible atmosphere here at home. I want to thank our crowd because the energy they gave us late was tremendous. We had an incredible team effort today. We shot the ball really well today and did a good job adjusting when (Missouri) tried to take things away. We talked at halftime about where we could get better and I thought we did a tremendous job of focusing on that in the second half. From an offensive standpoint, we had different people stepping up at different times and playing a possession at a time as opposed to playing the scoreboard. When you look at the scoreboard and you play the scoreboard, it creates so much anxiety that you feel like you have to do something great right now. Our players have done a great job at sticking with the process lately and really locking in with each other, and I think that’s what happened today. Overall, today was a great team effort, especially defensively and rebounding. I’m so thankful that we had an incredible crowd here to help us with this and for our kids to enjoy it at home.”
On bouncing back from a loss to South Carolina . . .
“These young ladies haven’t been affected by any game to a point where they haven’t come back and practiced harder the next day. They have a desire to be better, they want this program to be better. They come in day in and day out and challenged each other and challenged where we were yesterday to take that next step. It’s one thing to talk, it’s another thing to act, and tonight, they acted in a great way.”
On the team’s inexperience . . .
When you look at this roster, you may think we are this experienced team because we have some juniors and seniors. But we don’t have Division I experience. Our transfers didn’t play a ton where they were, so they’ve become completely different players now. So, it’s cool to see what they’ve become day in and day out and watching them fight through the bumps in the road. It’s just the process, it’s what we talk about, but they’re living it and doing it. It doesn’t mean next week is going to be any easier, but I do know this, I know we are going to fight our way for the next possession and be better than what we were before the last.”

On playing against Missouri’s Sophie Cunningham. . .
“What’s even more impressive about Sophie is that even though she didn’t get a lot of looks in the first half, she had seven assists. She does such a good job of affecting the game in so many ways. We made some adjustments at halftime to try to affect her even more and she only had one assist in the second half.”

On Kiki Smith’s performance . . .
“Kiki’s done a really good job spending time in the gym and fine-tuning her shot, which is why she’s been shooting so well from three. She’s also done a good job of attacking at the right spot and kicking it. She had 10 points and two assists. So, it’s just her overall feel of the game.”
Junior Guard Delicia Washington #00

On what was going through her head on that play when she gave the Gators the lead…
“My coaches and my teammates believed in me. Anybody could have been in that spot. I believe that any one of my teammates being able to finish that layup with that many seconds on the clock. So I guess it was just my turn to step up and be able to get to the rim and be able to put that score on that board.”
On how it feels to have the program’s first ever win over Missouri…
“I didn’t know that that was our first one, but to be able to play with these young ladies beside me and have this coaching staff along my side is a great experience. And I wouldn’t want to be able to experience this feeling with any other teammates or any other coaching staff. So being able to have them on my side and them believing in me and us being able to get through this win against Missouri for the first time, it’s a really good feeling.”
On how it feels seeing how all the newcomers on the team performed today…
“When they first got here, I’ve seen all the hard work and all the effort and the dedication that they were buying in to be here at the University of Florida. And being able to be one of those leaders—to show them the experience of playing in the SEC because we basically have a new roster. And just being able to step up and help them know what it feels like and what it takes to be in this league. Just helping them out through the thick and thin.”
Redshirt-Sophomore Guard Danielle Rainey #10

On how she felt about her career-high 16 points tonight…
“Like Cam said, I’m very inexperienced and everything. The main thing that my coaches and my teammates have been telling me is to be comfortable and to be confident—that’s the main thing I’ve been working on in practice. So without them telling me that, my head would’ve still been spinning. My teammates set a lot of good screens, made a lot of extra passes, so without those little things, I wouldn’t have had that.  I’m just grateful for that opportunity that they created for me.”
On what the team heard as the message in the locker room during halftime. 
“Mainly, we heard that nothing else matters but continuing to focus on what we can control. It doesn’t matter what happened before or what can happen next, we can focus on what we can do now and then we can focus on what’s happening next.”
Redshirt-Junior Forward Zada Williams #12

On how closing out a game like this can help the team the rest of the way in conference play 
“It definitely sets another tone of confidence. There have been some tough losses in the conference, but getting a win over Missouri and just playing hard and fighting ’till the very end, I think it’s going to help propel us for the games in the future.”

On what the team heard as the message in the locker room during halftime. 
“Just trying to fine tune the little things that are getting us down like not having our hands up on defense which let them make easy passes to people. So just making the little adjustments because they were minor. But then also celebrating the good things we were doing because being down at the half isn’t a great feeling. But if you can celebrate the little things you are doing to just stay in the game, it will help you to push forward to the next half. “
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