The University of Florida women’s basketball team fell 71-40 to the No. 21 South Carolina Gamecocks Thursday evening at Colonial Life Arena.
Sophomore Kiki Smith, registering a double-figure point total for the second-straight game, paced the Gators with 13 while redshirt-senior guard Funda Nakkasoglu scored 10, recording 10 or more points for the fifth-straight game and 12th time overall.
The Gators fought hard till the horn against the veteran-laden Gamecocks but came up short playing in front of over 10,000 energetic fans. South Carolina finished the game shooting 30-of-64 (46.9 percent) from the floor and 8-of-20 (40.0 percent) from three-point range.
Playing in a hostile road environment, the young Gator unit put together its best quarter in the second, when it connected on six field goals and scored 14 points, but failed to score double digits in any other quarter.
Seven different Gators scored in the game as redshirt-junior Zada Williams contributed eight points and four boards on an efficient 4-of-7 shooting from the floor off the UF bench.
After trailing just 37-23 at the break, UF struggled to score in the second half as the Gamecocks outpaced the Gators 34-17 in the final 20 minutes.
The Gamecocks began the game scoring at a torrid pace. After missing its first two field goal attempts, South Carolina scored on three-straight trips down the floor to jump out to an early 8-0 lead, prompting a Gator timeout. Following the timeout, the Gamecocks scored 11-straight to extend their lead to 19-0 to begin the game. UF wasn’t able to crack through for its first field goal until the 3:51 mark of the first when Nakkasoglu got the Gators on the board with a left-handed lay in. The Gamecocks scored on eight-consecutive possessions at a point in the period to grow their advantage to 24-4. But with its backs up against the wall, the Gators closed the quarter strongly with a 5-0 run to cut the deficit to 24-9 heading into the second.
To begin the second quarter, Smith swished a three-pointer from the left wing to shrink the gap to 24-12. Florida found its footing in the second, outscoring the Gamecocks 14-13 in the frame and Smith caught fire, finishing with eight points in the stanza on a pair of triples to help the Gators fight their way back. The Gators went into the break trailing the Gamecocks 37-23, facing their first halftime deficit since Dec. 20 at Utah.
Despite a strong second quarter, Florida was unable to carry the momentum into the second half as it connected on just three field goals in each of the final two periods against a gritty Gamecock defense.
South Carolina, who has won four-straight SEC Tournament Championships, featured four players in double figures led by Bianca Cuevas-Moore’s 16.
The Gamecocks entered the game averaging just 6.1 three-pointers per game on the season, but made 5 of their first 10 shots from distance on Thursday to spark an early scoring frenzy.
The Gators return to action Sunday, Jan. 13 when they return home to host Missouri at 3 p.m. ET.
Â· Kiki Smith finished with 13 points, giving her back to back games with at least 10 or more for the first time since she scored 14 at Indiana followed by 11 vs. Northeastern in November
Â· Smith has made five three-pointers in the last two games, the most she has scored in a two-game span all season
Â· Funda Nakkasoglu has made a three-pointer in nine-straight games for Florida
Â· Nakkasoglu added her 12th game with 10 or more points on the season
Â· Florida now leads the all-time series 20-18 over USC
Â· The Gators have added 10 or more assists six-straight games
Â· Thursday marked the Gators first time trailing at the half since Dec. 20 vs. Utah
**Quotes will be available on FloridaGators.com later this evening.