Gators Fall Short in Battle with Bulldogs

Box Score | Highlights | Postgame Press Conference

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – In a back-and-forth contest between two teams jockeying for position in the SEC standings, the University of Florida women’s basketball team (12-11, 3-7) came up short Sunday afternoon as it fell 49-43 to Georgia (13-11, 4-7) at Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

Battling foul trouble redshirt-senior Zada Williams finished with her second-straight double-double as she registered 13 points and 11 rebounds. Adding double figures for the 14th time this season, Williams was a force in the paint for Florida but saw her minutes limited in second half after she was assigned her fourth foul with 3:35 to play in the third.

The Gators led 23-15 at the half, but couldn’t hold on as Georgia outscored them 34-20 over the course of the final 20 minutes.

Following the first half Florida looked to have control of the game’s tempo. But Georgia wouldn’t waste any time mounting its second half defense as it opened the third quarter with an 11-2 scoring run over the first five minutes. UF trailed by just one at 32-31 heading into the fourth, but in a similar fashion Georgia opened the final stanza with a 7-0 scoring spurt. The Gators would claw back, but never could overcome UGA’s run.

In what was a defensive struggle, both teams finished shooting exactly 18-of-61 from the floor at 29.5 percent.

Faith Dut provided a bright spot for Florida as the freshman recorded new career highs in points (8) and rebounds (5).

The Gators, holding their opponent to 50 or fewer points for the sixth time this season, put together 40 minutes of stingy defense but their offense never quite clicked.

In what was truly a tale of two halves, Florida at one point led by 10 in the first but trailed by as many as seven in the second.

Six-foot-five center Jenna Staiti, who has combined for 43 points over her last two games for Georgia, led all scorers with 19 points and 15 rebounds.

After trailing by seven in the fourth quarter, UF scored five straight points to narrow the UGA lead to 42-40. Florida nearly had a possession to try to tie it but after a miss, Staiti corralled the offensive rebound and put it back in to put Georgia ahead four with 1:47 to play.

UGA would outscore the Gators 7-3 the rest of the way.

The teams struggled to find their footing early, combining for just 5-of-20 start. UGA held an 8-5 edge at the first quarter media timeout, but after the break in play, Florida’s defense held Georgia without a point for the final 4:43 of the period. Florida employed a 5-0 run to take a 10-8 lead after Williams converted an old-fashioned three-point play with 2:34 remaining. The advantage stood at 10-8 in favor of the Gators at quarter’s end.
Williams was extremely active on both ends early, totaling five points, four rebounds and two blocks.

Florida blitzed the Bulldogs out of the gate in the second, scoring the frame’s first six points.

After a traditional three-point play from Ariel Johnson, UF extended its lead to 19-11 with under five minutes remaining. Dut then scored four-straight points to put the Gatos ahead 23-13.
The Gators carried a 23-15 advantage into the half as they allowed a season low in first half points and held UGA scoreless for 10 minutes during a stretch. Florida limited the Lady Bulldogs to single-digit points total in each frame and conceded just 20 percent shooting.

Florida’s offensive attack was effective near the basket as it outscored UGA 14-8 in points in the paint, and forwards Williams and Dut combined for 13. At the break, Dut had already surpassed her career high in points. Williams checked in with seven points, seven rebounds and season-high two blocks.

UGA scored 11 of the second half’s first 13 points and took the lead 26-25 with under five minutes to play, its first advantage since it was 8-7. Florida endured a four-minute scoreless stretch and during that time Georgia scored seven unanswered.

Right after she scored to give Florida a 27-26 lead, Williams received her fourth foul on the ensuing possession. After some back-and-forth action, Maya Caldwell knocked down a jumper at the end of the third to put the Lady Bulldogs ahead heading to the fourth and final period.

After just 15 in the first half, Georgia tallied 17 in the third quarter compared to UF’s eight.

With Williams now on the bench, Florida went cold to open the fourth while Georgia got hot, utilizing a 7-0 run. After over four minutes without a basket, Johnson snapped the spell with a pair of free throws at the 5:09 mark.

The game saw eight lead changes, one tie and each team led for over 18 minutes.

Redshirt-junior Kiki Smith was held to just four points, but she hauled in eight rebounds, her most since Dec. 17 vs. Mercer.
Thursday, Feb. 13 | 6 p.m.
Florida (12-11, 3-7) vs. Ole Miss (7-15, 0-9)
Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center | Gainesville, Fla.

  • UF held Georgia to just 15 points in the first half – the fewest points allowed in a first half this season.
  • The Bulldogs were held to 20 percent shooting from the floor in the first half (7-35, 1-6 3FG) – the lowest FG percentage allowed thus far through SEC play.
  • Georgia is one of three SEC squads Florida plays two times, the others are Kentucky and Arkansas.
  • Freshman Faith Dut recorded career-highs in scoring (8) and rebounding (5)
  • Zada Williams, UF’s lone double-figure scorer, posted her second consecutive double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
    • Marking her fifth of the season and sixth of her career.
    • Williams also matched a career-high in blocks with two.
  • Emanuely de Oliveira recorded a career-high seven boards.
  • UF has held 16 of its 23 opponents below their season scoring average.
  • Florida’s 43 points scored were a season low.
  • The Gators played in front of a season-best crowd of 2,439. It marked the third-largest crowd over last three seasons.

Head Coach Cam Newbauer
Opening Statement…
“Congrats to Georgia. They out-toughed us, out-played us, especially in that second half. I thought we did a lot of good things in the first half, but the second half was strange. Nothing really went well for us today after halftime … Just really disappointed, really bad taste in my mouth right now. They out-played us, so hats off to Georgia. Good job for (Jenna) Staiti, she’s had back-to-back really good games. She should be the player of the week with 45 points over the last two games. Just really aggressive. Zada (Williams) had 11 rebounds, competed in there with 13 points … Faith (Dut) came in there and did some really good things. That young lady has just fought and worked all year to get more time and for Faith to have eight points and five rebounds was really good.

Our forwards today did a really good job, our guards today just didn’t have it. It’s probably just (Georgia’s) defense. They do a good job guarding people, getting up, making people uncomfortable, forcing 20 turnovers. It just wasn’t a good day for the Gators.”
On the team’s first game back after its victory at Kentucky…
“I thought that we had overcome playing through adversity and that third and fourth quarter there was just strange. It was just strange, man. They’re a really good defensive team, but first half I thought we had a lot of really good looks and execution, but the second half we totally got away from that. We weren’t effective offensively at all, so that’s on me.”

On looking ahead in league play…
“Georgia is a team that lost four in a row and came in here and beat us. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing, every single day in the SEC you have to show up. It doesn’t matter what you did the last game, it matters what you’re doing right now in this present moment. That’s why I think I’m most disappointed, we didn’t stay in the moment today and we didn’t connect as a team. Maybe it’s a young team coming off of a big win on the road and then having an off week, but we still have to lace them up and play. I mean, everything is the same, it’s another game, another opportunity and we just didn’t take advantage of it today.”
On some positive takeaways from today’s game…
“Zada and Faith played really well. Faith had some really good moves and was aggressive inside. I thought defensively – I mean, they beat us shooting 29.5 percent for the game and 17 percent from three. This was just a bad basketball game. I would like to say both of us played really good defense and it wasn’t bad offense. We held them to 49 points, that’s enough to win almost any game, but our offense wasn’t there.”

No. 12 Zada Williams
On how playing with four fouls affected her game…
“I couldn’t be as aggressive on their forwards, but that’s just on me. I wasn’t being smart with how I defended. I got a couple cheap ones for no reason, so hats off to them for recognizing that and taking it.”

On the positives from today’s game…
“Keep pushing through. It sucks to lose, but you can’t play any less aggressive. You have to make use of the touches you get, so that’s what I tried to do.”

On the challenges Jenna Staiti posed…
“She posted really deep. She put me in a position where either I get really aggressive, or just let her score. She had us double guessing the entire game.”

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