Comeback Bid at Florida State Falls Short for Gators

After falling behind by 18 points Florida women’s basketball put together a valiant comeback bid, but was unable to keep pace with Florida State, falling to the Seminoles 92-77 on Wednesday evening.

The Gators (2-1, 0-0 SEC) were led offensively by KK Deans who tallied 23 points while Leilani Correa added 22 points. Ra Shaya Kyle and Jordyn Merritt also crossed the double-figures threshold, each contributing 10 points. For the game, Florida shot 27-of-69 (39.1%) while the Seminoles (4-0, 0-0 ACC) ended their evening 34-of-67 (50.7%).

On the glass, the Gators did hold a 42-34 advantage, led by Nina Rickards’ eight, with Correa and Deans each getting up for six. The Orange & Blue did have assists on 20 of their 27 made buckets, seven of which came from Rickards.

A bright spot for the Gators continues to be the play of the bench, who outscored Florida State, 45-25.

The Seminoles were led by Ta’Niya Latson with 32 points and five rebounds.

Florida State was quick on the attack to begin the game on Wednesday evening, taking the tip straight into the lane for an old-school three-point play. Not phased by the aggressive start, Merritt got the Gators on the board with a triple against the FSU zone.

The Seminoles took control over the next four minutes, using a 9-0 run to pull ahead 12-3 before a lob from Deans to Correa led to an uncontested layup with 4:30 left in the quarter. Despite the slow start for the Gators, the boost from Correa and Deans brought the Orange & Blue back to within six, 22-16, at the end of the first quarter.

Florida struggled to match the pace of the home team during the start of the second frame, as FSU used an 8-0 to open up a 30-16 lead with 7:31 on the clock before a timeout was called by the Gators. The Seminole lead would grow to 42-24 before the Gators offense began to accelerate. A 9-0 run, capped off by a triple by Correa with 1:22 left in the half, brought UF back to within nine at 42-33. Despite battling back, Florida State took a 48-36 lead into halftime. Correa led the Gators with 15 points through the first 20 minutes, while Deans added 10.

Facing a 12-point halftime deficit, it was a back-and-forth affair to begin the second half. With just under seven minutes on the clock in the period, the Florida offense came to life, sparked by a layup from Deans through contact, to help close the gap to 57-49.

The deficit continued to hover between 8-10 points through the 3:41 mark when Deans managed to bring the Gators back within five after a triple on the wing. On the very next possession, she eclipsed the 20-point mark, draining a step-back three to make it a two-point game.  The run would end after 10-straight points, as Dut evened the game with a double-pump layup with under three minutes remaining in the quarter. Florida State, however, took a 69-63 lead into the final frame.

Six would be as close as the Gators would get for the final 10 minutes, as Florida State pulled-away for a 92-77 victory.

Up Next
Florida returns to action on Friday, Nov. 18, when they welcome Bethune-Cookman to Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center for a 6 p.m. ET tip.

Head Coach Kelly Rae Finley
On her overall thoughts about the game…
“We’re disappointed, to say the least, but that’s to be expected. This is a great test of adversity early in the season. What I just told our team is, we’ve been working on our responses and our reactions and how we bounce-back. The good news is, we have the opportunity to do that because we have practice tomorrow and we play again on Friday. At this point in the season, we just need to grow and improve. We fought hard, we made some really tremendous runs, and then we gave it right back. Learning the flow and the pace of the game, good shots versus great shots, how you give those up. I was proud of how we battled through adversity and foul trouble in the first half, that was pretty crazy, but I thought that we held our head up and battled. That’s what you can look for from us.”

On KK Deans
“She [KK Deans] is a great spark for us. She’s a floor general, she has a great court presence and she gets us going on both ends of the floor. She knows what to say, how to say it and when to say it.”

On Leilani Correa’s performance…
“Leilani is very consistent. I think we can see that over our three games. She tweaked her back, which is something that has been on-and-off for her, and then KK with her ankle, so we have to think long term as well, but Leilani is a tremendous shooter, has great pace to her game and you saw that tonight.”

– The series with Florida State now moves to a 43-36 lead for the Gators. UF has not won on the road in Tallahassee in their last eight attempts.
– With both crossing the 20-point threshold, Correa and Deans put together the first 20+-point performances of the season.
– Wednesday was Correa’s 26th time surpassing 20 points in her career, while Deans accomplished the feat for the eighth time.
– Correa and Deans were the first Florida duo to score 20 or more since Zippy Broughton and Kiki Smith accomplished the feat at Texas A&M last season.
– The Florida bench has outscored their opponents by at least 20 points in all three matchups this season.