Gators Fall in a Tight One to Wake Forest

Box Score

Despite a career-best 23 points from freshman Lavender Briggs, the University of Florida women’s basketball team (8-4) dropped a 73-68 decision to Wake Forest (7-4) Saturday afternoon at the West Palm Beach Invitational hosted by Keiser University. 

Briggs scored 19 of her points in the first half as she finished in double-figures for the 10th-straight game.

For the fifth time this season, Florida featured a quartet of double-figure scorers. Kiki Smith tallied 14 and Zada Williams and Kristina Moore added 10 apiece.

In a contest that featured six lead changes and five ties, Florida came up just short against the Demon Deacons who improve to 7-4 on the young season.

Florida’s final game of two-day tournament saw crisp offense from both teams. Wake Forest shot an even 50 percent from the floor while the Gators shot at a 48.3 percent clip and turned the ball over just 10 times, a season low.

UF led by 45-43 at the break, but the Demon Deacons held a 30-23 edge in the second half.  

The Demon Deacons, who entered the game sporting the No. 1 rebounding margin in NCAA Division I at +15.3, outrebounded Florida 33-26. It was just the third time the Gators have been outrebounded this season.

Following a career-high 25 points in yesterday’s game, Williams shot five-of-six from the field and scored 10 or more points for the eighth time this season.

Wake Forest opened the game with hot shooting as it made its first four shots and six of first its first seven. The Gators faced a 24-21 deficit at the end of the first quarter, but hung tough and withstood the early offensive barrage from the Demon Deacons. Wake Forest converted 11 of its 19 attempts from the floor, shooting 57.9 percent in the opening stanza.

Briggs scored Florida’s first six points of the second quarter and a layup from Smith gave the Gators a 29-28 lead early in the frame. Brylee Bartram knocked down her second triple of the game to give Florida a 34-28 lead with 6:47 remaining in the period. Wake Forest responded with three-straight three-pointers and jumped back ahead 37-34.

The Gators led at the intermission after shooting 52.9 percent and turning the ball over just three times. Florida caught fire from the three-point line, draining seven three-pointers. With seven treys, Florida posted its third-highest amount of made three-pointers in a game this season in just the opening 20 minutes of play.

Briggs was sensational in the first half, scoring 19 points on eight of 12 shooting from the floor. Smith checked in with eight of her own.

Shots were falling for both squads in the first half as both the Gators and Demon Deacons shot north of 50 percent. The teams combined for just eight turnovers. 

The Gators came out locked in to open the second half and built an early 51-43 advantage only to see Wake Forest counter with eight-straight tallies to tie it up. The Gators offense went cold as it went scoreless for over four minutes. Wake Forest’s scoring run surged to 16-0 before Florida scored again at 3:07 minute mark when Bartram swished her third three-pointer. Wake Forest held a 22-13 edge in the third stanza and carried a 65-58 lead into the fourth.

Both teams struggled to score in the fourth quarter and Florida covered some ground winning the quarter, 10-8. Florida trailed 67-60 early in the frame, but rattled off six-straight to pull within one point at 67-66 with under three minutes remaining.

With 2:24 remaining, the Gators had a chance to take the lead but Moore’s mid-range try was off the mark. Wake Forest scored the next four points and led 71-66.

Florida pulled to within one at 71-68 after Smith converted a tough layup in the lane with 22 seconds left. Wake Forest’s Ivana Raca sealed the win with a pair of conversions from the charity stripe with two seconds remaining.

Raca finished with 14 points while teammate Alex Sharp poured in 21 points to pace the Demon Deacons. Wake Forest scored 44 points in the paint and tallied 22 second chance points.

Knocking down multiple three-pointers for the sixth time this season, Bartram finished with nine points for the game.

After breaking for the holidays, the Gators return to action Sunday, Dec. 29 when they host their 2019-20 non-conference finale against the Davidson Wildcats. Tipoff is slated for 2 p.m. ET and the contest will be streamed live on SEC Network+.


  • Lavender Briggs has scored in double figures in 10-straight games.
  • Kristina Moore added 10 points, her fifth double-figure scoring game of her career and second this season.
  • Zada Williams finished with 10 or more points for the ninth time in 12 games.
  • Brylee Bartram knocked down multiple three-pointers for the sixth time. She tied her career high with three triples.
  • Florida was outrebounded for just the third time this season.
  • Kiki Smith scored in double figures for the ninth time this season.
  • Florida committed just 10 turnovers, a season low.

Sunday, Dec. 29 | 2 p.m. ET
Florida (8-4) vs. Davidson (7-4)
Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center
Head Coach Cam Newbauer

Overall thoughts…
“68 points are enough to win a game and we did a really good job limiting our turnovers. Hats off to Wake Forest, they played really hard. It just comes down to a few toughness plays late and they made the toughest plays when they needed to win the game. That’s an area we are stressing that we need to get better on. We need to make those hustle plays to win games like this. There were a lot of bright spots in this game. We shot really well in the first half, but struggled a bit in the second. I’m disappointed in the loss but I know we will get better from it.”

On what Wake Forest did defensively in the second half…
“They zoned us in the second half and had help in spots where they didn’t in the first. In the first half we had a lot of shots going at the rim. Anytime you have a player score 19 points in a half, you know in the second half that adjustments are going to be made and other players are going to need to step up. We just couldn’t hit enough shots in the end.”
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