Gators Defeat Valdosta State 84-38 in Exhibition Action

Fueled by 20 points from guard Kiki Smith, the University of Florida women’s basketball team cruised to an 84-38 victory over Valdosta State Wednesday evening in an exhibition matchup at Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
Smith scored 11 points in the third quarter, helping the Gators outscore the Blazers 29-6 in the frame and pull away in their final preseason test.
Sophomore Ariel Johnson also stuffed the stat sheet with a 13 point, 10 board and five assist performance.
Redshirt-sophomore Emer Nichols added points and seven rebounds playing in her first game while Zada Williams recorded 13 tallies.
UF found its shooting stroke in the second half, finishing 17-of-33 from the floor after struggling to find its offense early in the contest.
Florida’s five newcomers, Brylee BartramLavender BriggsFaith Dut, Nichols and Nina Rickards combined for 33 points. Briggs, earning the starting nod, posted nine points including seven in the first four minutes of the second half.
The Gators limited Valdosta State to just 22 percent shooting and forced it into 22 turnovers.
After holding Valdosta State to just four points in the second period, the Gators carried a 28-15 edge heading into the break. UF had its way in the paint, scoring 20 of its 28 points from near distance. Smith paced all scorers with seven points.
Florida came out locked in to open the third period, knocking down its first four tries from long range.
Cheray Saunders led the Blazers with 12 points.
Hosting an exhibition for the first time since the 2008-09 season, Florida outscored VSU 40-16 in points in the paint and earned 33 trips to the charity stripe.

Tuesday, Nov. 5 | 7 p.m. ET
Florida (0-0) at Grambling State (0-0)
Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center | Grambling, La. 
Season Opener

Head Coach Cam Newbauer
Opening statement…
“We’re glad to have gotten this first game-like, as close as possible to a game, situation under our belts. I thought we came out a little anxious and tentative, which is to be expected. We did a great job of sticking with it, playing through it in the second half, and keeping our eyes on the rim. We had thirty-three free throws which is being very aggressive. We didn’t shoot the ball as well as we would have liked, but we got the right shots that we wanted.
With 16 assists and 10 turnovers, that’s fantastic. I thought we stayed the course, stayed together, and made some really good plays. We had some really good things happen for us on both ends of the floor and got some good experience for everybody.”
On the growth of the team…
“We controlled the pace of the game a little better. We had some moments where it got a little sloppy and some misunderstandings with the time and score. I thought we had moments where we were pretty rushed and forced the issue. From a defensive standpoint, we had some little breakdowns where they got some easy shots because we weren’t in the right position. I think that’s just because we weren’t concentrating and communicating the best we should. That’ll come with time. When you have eight freshmen and sophomores, learning the communication in those little moments is a big deal.”
Redshirt Junior Guard Kiki Smith
On her hot shooting in the second half…
“Nothing changed. Even though we were missing the shots, my teammates and the coaches always tell us to keep shooting the ball. We make those shots in practice all the time, so nobody was really looking at numbers. We just kept our eyes on the rim and in the second half we started knocking them down. There weren’t any big changes, we just kept shooting the ball.”
Sophomore Guard Ariel Johnson
On her double-double…
“Honestly, I didn’t even know I had a double-double. I just went out there and played my best. I do whatever I can to make teammates better and make myself better.”
On her adjustments in the offseason…
“Mainly I’ve been working on establishing my confidence, attacking, and doing my best. Being a sophomore, I have a bigger role so I’ve just been working on stepping it up and making my game all-around.”


  • After missing the final 11 games of the 2018-19 campaign due to an arm injury, sophomore guard Kristina Moore appeared in UF’s starting lineup.
  • Florida played in its first exhibition game since the 2008-09 season.
  • Florida and Valdosta State met for the first time since the 1982-83 season.



  • Florida women’s basketball will host its second annual Field Trip Day on Monday, Nov. 18. Tipoff is set for 10:30 a.m. ET as local schools are invited to checkout the Gators battle Presbyterian College. Admission will be FREE for all local elementary students, teachers, administrators, and chaperones who register for the game online prior to the Nov. 11 deadline. Register here

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