Gators Drop 76-66 Decision to Undefeated Kansas

Despite a career-high 18 points from redshirt-junior guard Kiki Smith, the University of Florida women’s basketball team (6-3) fell 76-66 to undefeated Kansas (8-0) Sunday afternoon at historic Allen Fieldhouse.
UF led for 19 minutes in the contest and saw three finish in double figures, but came up short in the Big 12/SEC Challenge tilt.
Lavender Briggs and Zada Williams also finished with double-digit point totals, adding 12 apiece. The first-year guard, Briggs, tallied 10 or more points for the seventh-straight game, the longest-such streak by a freshman since the 2005-06 season.
The Gators trailed just 52-47 heading into the fourth, but saw the Jayhawks hit seven of their final nine attempts and pull away late.
After Florida held Kansas to just 29 first half points, the Jayhawks scored 47 and shot 61.5 percent in the final 20 minutes.
Nine different Florida players scored in the game and Williams finished with 10 or more points for the third-straight contest.
Florida, playing its second-straight road game, started strong and led 14-10 after the first quarter. After Kansas opened the scoring in the game, the Gators responded with eight-straight points and led 8-2 at the first quarter media timeout. KU then battled back to make it 10-9, Florida closed the quarter effectively. Florida started 4-of-10 from the field while KU started just 1-of-6. The Jayhawks managed nine trips to the charity stripe in the period while Florida had zero but connected for seven field goals.
Williams had the hot hand early, scoring six of UF’s first 10 points but foul trouble caused her to head to the bench.
The Jayhawks opened the second quarter with an 8-4 run and tied the game at 18 all. Kansas took a 23-22 lead with 1:45 to play in the period, its first since it was 2-0. KU built a three-point lead late but free throws from Smith with 0.6 seconds left in the quarter tied the game up at 29-29 heading into the intermission.
Florida’s offense came from an array of players in the first half as seven different Gators scored, led by Smith, Briggs and Williams who all checked in with six. Not only was the score even, but in terms of statistics the teams were neck and neck as KU shot 42 percent from the floor and Florida, 41. The teams each had 18 rebounds.
The Jayhawks came out hot to open the second half, knocking down nine of their 14 field goal attempts including a blistering 5-of-7 shooting performance from three-point range in the third. Florida weathered the storm by converting 50 percent of its attempt and making timely shots when it was on the ropes. Briggs scored the Gators’ first four points of the second half and Florida led 37-34 four minutes into the third. KU responded with a 7-0 run and wouldn’t trail from this point forward.
Florida faced a five-point deficit heading into the final quarter, and trimmed the gap to just 56-53 after a Williams’ layup with 7:02 to play in the frame. Despite a gritty effort late from the Gators, Kansas outscored them 24-19 over the final 10 minutes to nab its eighth win of the year.
Smith scored 12 of her 18 points in the second half, netting a pair of timely three-pointers.
For just the second time in eight games, the Gators were outrebounded as KU held a 37-34 edge on the boards. The fifth-year senior, Williams, led the Gators in rebounding for the fifth time with seven.

Florida finished the game shooting 39.4 percent while Kansas shot 52.0 percent cumulatively.
Kansas’ high-powered offense produced five double-figure scorers paced by Tina Stephens, who added 16.

Tuesday, Dec. 17 | 7 p.m. ET
Florida (6-3) vs. Mercer (2-6)
Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center
SEC Network

  • Lavender Briggs scored in double-figures for the seventh-straight game.
  • Nine different players scored for Florida.
  • UF held its opponent below their season scoring average for seventh-straight game.
  • Florida falls to 20-8 all time vs. the Big 12 and 2-1 in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
  • The Gators picked up 12 steals, their second-highest total of the season.
  • Freshman Nina Rickards scored eight points off the bench and secured four rebounds.

Head Coach Cam Newbauer
Overall thoughts on the game…
“Playing two-games in a row in two very tough road environments will be good experience for this young group. Defensively we had too many communication breakdowns. We worked on communicating a lot going into this game and we had too many lapses that led to easy baskets for them. On the other end, I think we got the shots we wanted. We just weren’t able to knock them down today. With a break in our schedule, these are two areas we will be working diligently to improve heading into our next game.”

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