Fueled by a 53-point first half, the University of Florida women’s basketball team defeated Samford 84-48, Saturday afternoon at the Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
After making just 11 three-pointers combined in their first two games, the Gators exploded for 13 against Samford, tying the O’Connell Center record. In the first half alone UF drained 11 treys as they came out as the aggressor and never let up, claiming the second-ever meeting between the programs.
Florida stretches its record to 3-0, its best start since the 2016-17 campaign.
Four Florida players finished the game in double figures as freshman Lavender Briggs posted her second-straight double-double with a game-high 19 points to go with 10 rebounds.
Redshirt-junior Kiki Smith and sophomore Ari Johnson were both terrific as well, registering new career highs with 18 and 15 points, respectively. Smith and Johnson proved to be a lethal long-range shooting combination, shooting a combined 6-of-9 from distance. Sophomore Kristina Moore rounded out UF’s quartet of double-figure scorers with an 11 point, five rebound and three assist performance.
Florida’s 36-point margin of victory is its largest since defeating Savannah State 90-40 in November of 2017.
Slow starts had plagued the Gators in their first two bouts, but that certainly wasn’t the case Saturday as UF scored the game’s first 13 points. After a Sarah Myers’ three cut Florida’s lead to 15-6 with 4:04 to play, the Gators closed the quarter on a 9-2 run and held a 25-8 advantage at the end of the first. Shooting a blistering 67 percent from the floor, Florida surpassed last season’s high for points in a first quarter. The Gators hit seven of their first 10 shots while Samford started 2-of-10.
UF kept its foot on the gas to open the second, netting two 3-pointers in the first minute of the frame. UF’s impressive three-point shooting allowed it to pull away from Samford after knocking down seven of its nine attempts in the stanza. Briggs broke out for nine points, shooting a perfect 3-of-3 from long range.
Finishing with their most first half points since Dec. 28, 2016, Florida’s lead swelled to 53-18 at the intermission.
Florida went without a three in the third as the teams played to an even 16-16 score. Seven different players scored in the period and UF extended its largest lead of the game at 39.
After a scoreless third, Briggs caught fire again in the final quarter, pouring in eight points and two more three-pointers. Briggs’ final triple of the game at the 58 second mark was UF’s 13th of the game which tied the O’Connell Center record.
The Gators outrebounded their opponent for the third-straight game to open the season and recorded 22 assists on their 33 made field goals.
Smith continues to be the catalyst offensively for Florida as the Maryland native finished with five or more assists for the third-straight game, accomplishing the feat for the first time in her career.
Starting 3-0 for the first time under third-year head coach Cam Newbauer, Florida finished the game shooting a crisp 51.6 percent from the floor.
Myers led Samford with 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting.
UF faces a quick turnaround as it returns to action Monday morning vs. Presbyterian. Monday will be Field Trip Day at the O’Connell Center as over 1,000 local elementary students are expected to be on hand for the special 10:30 a.m. tipoff.
With Monday’s game occurring during normal business hours, parking at the surrounding lots will not be lifted. Fans without the necessary parking decals are encouraged to park at Flavet Field where there will be a shuttle running from 9:30 a.m. until approximately 45 minutes following the conclusion of the game.
Monday, Nov. 18 | 10:30 a.m.
Florida (3-0) vs. Presbyterian (2-1)
Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center
Field Trip Day
Head Coach Cam Newbauer
“That was a cool game personally for me because their head coach was an assistant at Belmont (University) and one of their assistants was with me at Belmont. I’m proud of them, for Carley (Kuhns), getting to be a head coach at the Division 1 level â€” very deserving. I’m proud to see how hard their team played and scrapped. We did a great job getting shots early but hats off to them for how hard they played. I like how aggressive we played on both ends of the floor. Overall, I really liked our performance. I’m happy to have that home win.”
On team’s growing chemistryâ€¦
“We are in a good place right now. A part of that is because we are 3-0. We are sticking together. We are seeing communication on a different level in terms of accountability and helping develop each other. That’s just the maturity in our players in wanting a different result. They’ve taken more ownership with knowing if they want different results they have to buy in to more areas than just practice. A part of that is the comradery and fellowship you have to have with each other off the court in order to really trust each other. Everybody cares about each other to help them be their best.”
On the team’s 3-0 start
“I’m grateful to be coaching a great group of young ladies and to be a Gator. We are taking it one day at a time. I like the enthusiasm that our group shows up with every day.”
Redshirt-junior Kiki Smith
On tying the O’Dome three-point recordâ€¦
“Like Coach (Newbauer) said, it’s just about us getting in the gym on our own outside of practice. We shoot those shots at practice every day so we knew once we got comfortable, the shots would start falling. Today was just that day.”
On starting with a 13-0 runâ€¦
“It gives us all confidence and hypes us up. The energy was incredible, and it was just about playing hard on defense. Our defense is what started the whole entire game.”
On stepping upâ€¦
“I want to do whatever I can do to help the team. One thing I did want to work on coming back this season was being more aggressive. The team that we have right now is very talented. We have great chemistry on and off the court, so I just want to play hard for them. All of our players want to play hard for each other, for our coaches and fans.”
On limiting turnoversâ€¦
“Nobody wants to turn the ball over. It wasn’t a big factor. Our goal every game is to play hard. If they’re turnovers that are aggressive turnovers, we don’t pay too much attention to them.”
Sophomore Ariel Johnson
On gaining confidenceâ€¦
“I’m a lot more confident. I think I’m playing more comfortable, not just on the floor but with my teammates as well. They encourage me to shoot with more confidence.”
- Florida improves to 3-0 for the first time since the 2016-17 season.
- Saturday marked a reunion of sorts for the two head coaches roaming the sidelines. Samford head coach Carley Kuhns was an assistant coach on Newbauer’s staff at Belmont from 2013-16. Kuhns, in her first year at Samford, spent the previous three seasons as the head coach at Valdosta St.. who UF played in an exhibition this season. In addition, Samford assistant Jon Bollier was on staff with Newbauer and Kuhns at Belmont from 2013-15. Florida’s 84 points mark the highest point total reached this season and its most since the 2017-18 season when it scored 85 in win over Delaware State.
- Florida opened the contest with a 13-0 run on 5-of-5 shooting from the field through the first 3:50 (5-5 FG; 2-2 3FG, 1-1 FT).
- Four different Gators scored in the span (Moore – 4, Williams – 4, Johnson – 3, Briggs – 2)
- Three Gators finished with new career highs in points (Smith 18, Johnson 15 and Briggs 19)
- Florida held the advantage in rebounds over Samford, 47-37, marking the third consecutive contest out-rebounding an opponent.
- The Gators matched the most 3-pointers made in O’Dome history, netting 13 on 52-percent shooting (13-25)
- Four Gators hit at least two made 3-pointers (Briggs – 5, Smith – 3, Johnson – 3, Moore – 2)
- 11 of the Gators’ threes came in the first half (11-15, 73.3%)
- Four Gators finished with double-figures in scoring (Briggs – 19, Smith – 18, Johnson – 15, Moore – 11)
- 10 Gators scored at least two points or more in the contest.
- Florida’s 36-point margin of victory was its greatest since defeating Savannah State 90-40 in November of 2017.