Gators Come up Short vs. LSU Thursday Night

Box Score | Highlights | Postgame Press Conference

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Despite featuring four double-figure scorers and shooting 51 percent from the field, the University of Florida women’s basketball team fell short against LSU Thursday night, dropping a 77-68 decision at Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

Lavender Briggs, finishing with 10 or more points for the 18th time this season, paced the Gators with 16 while redshirt-junior Kiki Smith put together an impressive line of 14 points, six assists, four rebounds, two steals and just one turnover. Nina Rickards (11) and Zada Williams (11) rounded out UF’s quartet of double-figure scorers.

The Tigers, who entered the game averaging a league-low 2.3 three-pointers per game, caught fire from beyond the arc on Thursday night. LSU made eight of its 10 three-point attempts setting season highs in both three’s made and three-point percentage.

Florida’s offense was clicking as it concluded the game with its second-best field goal percentage of the season and saw all nine players to appear score, but defensive stops eluded the Gators.

In a game that featured 15 lead changes and six ties, LSU outscored the Gators by seven in the final 20 minutes and stretched its lead to double figures at times in the second half.

Florida shot 40 percent or better in all four quarters including in the first when it shot a blistering 58.3.

Junior guard Khayla Pointer finished with a game-high 24 points for the Tigers.

At the first quarter media timeout, the score was deadlocked at 11 all. Florida utilized a 6-0 scoring run to jump ahead but LSU responded with five straight of its own. The Gators made five of their first nine shots as they came out focused in their first home game in 14 days.

Florida led 17-16 at the end of the first quarter. The Gators made five of their last seven shots and knocked down three of their seven attempts from distance. Briggs canned a three-pointer with 16 seconds left to give Florida the edge at the end of the quarter.

Early in the second, Florida led 24-21 but saw LSU rattle off a 10-0 scoring run over a three-minute span. Out of the timeout, Florida found Rickards for a three and the freshman snapped the LSU run. Briggs scored on the next possession and the advantage stood at just 31-29 in favor of LSU heading into the intermission.

Briggs and Rickards each checked in with seven points at the break. The Tigers made five of their six tries from distance in the opening 20 minutes of play.

Both teams came out with crisp offensive execution in the beginning of the third as the squads combined to hit 11 of their first 18 shots. The Gators made five of seven shots in a stretch but then endured a three-plus minute stretch without a made field goal late in the period.

Florida trailed 50-44 heading into the fourth after the Tigers owned a 19-15 advantage in the third quarter.

An LSU run that emerged at the end of the third extended on into the fourth but a close-range layup from Williams snapped the 8-0 surge. LSU’s advantage would hover between eight to 11 points for the majority of the quarter until Smith scored on a driving shot to cut the deficit to just 62-56 with 4:04 remaining.

After the Tigers managed to build their lead back to 10, Ariel Johnson connected on a pair of tries from the charity stripe to shrink the lead to 68-63 with under two minutes remaining. Five points is as close as Florida would come though as the Tigers then scored four-straight points, all from free throws, to quell the Gator run.

Jaelyn Richard-Harris, who entered the game averaging 3.3 points per game, erupted for 14 points on a career-high four 3-pointers for the 15-5 Tigers. The Gators limited All-SEC talent and the nation’s leader in field goal percentage, Ayana Mitchell, to a season-low four points.

Florida’s offense came from a variety of players, as it placed four in double figures for the seventh time this season. Despite owning the edge in rebounding in the first half, LSU won the battle of the boards, 35-28.

Florida continues SEC play this Sunday, Feb. 2 when it travels to No. 13 Kentucky. The game is set to tip at 1 p.m. ET and will air nationally on the SEC Network.

Thursday, Jan. 30 | 6 p.m. ET
Florida (11-10, 2-6) at No. 13 Kentucky (17-3, 6-2)
Memorial Coliseum | Lexington, Ky.


  • The Gators shot 54.5 percent from the floor in the first half (12-22, 4-10 3FG, marking the third highest first-half field goal percentage achieved this season.
  • LSU shot 80 percent (8-10) from beyond the arc – the highest 3-point percentage an opponent has netted against UF this season.
  • Four Gators finished in double-figure scoring (Briggs – 16, Smith – 14, Rickards – 11, Williams – 11).
  • Rickards reached double figures for the fourth time in her career.
  • Briggs has reached double figures in 18 of 21 contests this season and it was her seventh contest recording at least 16 points.
  • Smith tied her single-game season-high for assists with six tonight.
  • UF’s five 3-pointers on the night mark a season-high thus far for home SEC contests.
  • Florida saw four players finish in double figures in a game for the seventh time this season.
  • Florida outscored LSU, 32-26 in the paint; the Tigers entered the game scoring 36.1 points in paint per game.
  • The Gators led for 8:53 in the contest.
  • Thursday marked the sixth time this season that Smith finished the game with just one turnover.

Head Coach Cam Newbauer
Opening Statement…
“I thought we battled and played really well in the first half. We were up two on the glass. That’s a team that does a great job scoring in the paint. That’s what they do. They average two made three’s a game, but they went 8 of 10. (Jaelyn) Richard-Harris has made 5 three’s the entire year. She went 4 for 4. I think they banked 2 threes in today. From a defensive perspective, I thought we did a pretty good job until they went 8-of-10 from three. We just didn’t make a few jumps quick enough. Hats off to them for the game they played. I thought we had good looks. We shot 51-percent. That’s fantastic. We probably had too many careless turnovers that really, really hurt us because when you’re shooting 51-percent, you don’t need to turn it over by going too fast in transition. 77 points on the board for them is just too many. 68 for us is plenty to win a game, but like I said, they went 8-of-10 from three and hit some shots. That’s what you have to do in a game.

It’s been a really tough stretch for us. We’ve played all the top teams in our league outside of #1 South Carolina and it doesn’t get any easier. We have to go to Kentucky next. We played well at home for the most part until the last quarter. We have to keep fighting and trying to get better. I thought we grew tonight in some areas, but SEC basketball is an all-the-time thing. We have to keep getting better.”

On staying positive in tough stretch…
“It’s part of life. It’s a game and you always have a 50-50 chance of winning or losing. Sometimes you’re going to lose, so what happens? You have to fight and keep going to what’s next and you have to keep battling and getting better each day. What gets easy to do is to get sorry for yourself, to point fingers, to get frustrated and to stop the dirty, unsexy work. If you do that, you’re only going to dig a bigger hole and we haven’t done that. I thought tonight was going to be a night we got a (win). We battled and we competed all week. It just didn’t happen. You can’t hang your head. It’s okay to be frustrated and mad about it, but you have to be frustrated and mad to get better. I think we’ll do that. We have a couple days to prepare for a really tough one at Kentucky on Sunday.”
On Emanuely de Oliveira’s effort…
“Manu has had a long road coming off her knee surgery last March. She’s been a warrior trying to battle back. She does a great job competing and just being a warrior. She hasn’t made some of her threes, but she’s very capable in doing that. I think she’s only going to continue to get better for us when she gets back into full form. The surgery she went through is tough to come back from that mentally and physically, and she battles every day. I’m just proud of her for coming in and giving us solid minutes and for competing the way she has.”

On deficits entering the fourth quarter…
“I felt great about it. We might have only been down six or seven to start the fourth and we kept battling back throughout the game as I thought we would. We had some possessions where we got the looks we wanted, it just didn’t go down. We need something to go our way and you have to create your own luck. Preparation leading to opportunity. That’s what luck is. We were prepared, we had the opportunity, we just didn’t finish it when we had to in moments and knock down the shots. They did and that’s the game of basketball. You have to keep battling and being prepared to be the best you can for what’s next.”

No. 15 Nina Rickards, Guard
On how the team has maintained confidence…
“We all came here to compete against the best teams, and I think that the SEC’s the best conference here. We’re just going to keep fighting and keep pushing, because we know we can compete.”

On her offensive performance…
“I’ve just been trusting the process, and my coaching staff and my teammates. Just getting comfortable with playing with them out there, and getting better every day.”

No. 1 Kiki Smith, Guard
On how she adjusted to have a big night offensively….
“Just being way more aggressive. I think the games where I only scored four points, I wasn’t being as aggressive. I was being really stagnant, so just getting in the gym and getting comfortable again. Just knocking out all the shots, being more aggressive.”

On the team’s mentality at the end of the game…
“To shoot the ball. We shoot the ball all day in practice. We always shoot, we’re all comfortable shooting, so it was just having that comfort this game, just knocking it down when we were open.”
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