Defense Shines as Florida Downs Presbyterian Tuesday Night

 Florida women’s basketball got defensive in a 78-52 victory over Presbyterian inside Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Tuesday night.
The Gators (9-1, 0-0 SEC) forced the Blue Hose (3-6, 0-0 Big South) into 21 turnovers, their sixth time forcing an opponent into at least 20 turnovers this season, en route to nine steals and a 22-12 advantage in points off turnovers. Alberte Rimdal and Ra Shaya Kyle each tallied two steals for UF.
Florida’s defensive energy made their Big South opponent uncomfortable, evidenced by their 18-of-56 (32.1%) shooting from the field and 7-of-27 (25.9%) effort from three-point range. Only one athlete on Presbyterian crossed the double-figures threshold as Nuria Cunill secured a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
On the offensive end, Florida was led by senior KK Deans with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including a 4-of-5 effort from deep. Rimdal and Kyle added 17 and 12 point, respectively, to round out the Gators with 10 or more points. As a team, the Orange & Blue shot 26-of-57 (45.6%) from the floor and 7-of-13 (53.8%) from deep. Deans also dished out five assists to lead Florida.
The Gators held a slight advantage on the glass for the evening, ending with 38 rebounds compared to the opposition’s 36. The Wyche twins, Taliyah and Tatyana, led UF’s rebounding effort, pulling down nine and eight, respectively.
After taking the tip, it didn’t long for the Gators to establish their offense as Faith Dut found a cutting Rimdal through the lane for an easy layup to get the scoring started. Rimdal followed with her first triple of the game two possessions later, and the Gators were out and running early, opening with a 7-0 run. Florida’s defense made getting the ball inbounds difficult for the Blue Hose as well, forcing a Presbyterian timeout after Taliyah Wyche swiped a pass to push the lead to 16-5 at the 5:55 mark. The Orange & Blue took a 22-14 lead into the second quarter, forcing nine turnovers in the opening 10 minutes. 
The Blue Hose used the opening three minutes of the second frame to close their gap to just two points at 25-23. In a must-score situation Kyle answered the call, putting on the moves in the post for two. Presbyterian wouldn’t go away, however, draining a triple on their next possession.
With 5:14 on the clock, the opposition took a 28-27 lead off of a baseline jumper, but their lead wouldn’t last following an 11-0 spurt from the Gators that was capped off by a Deans step-back jumper with 1:28 remaining. The Gators ended the second period on a 13-2 run overall, holding a 40-30 lead at the break. Presbyterian connected on just one of their last eight field goals.
Deans drained a pull-up three to begin the third quarter, helping to extend Florida’s lead to 45-30 after a jumper from Rimdal. Presbyterian pulled within 11 at the 7:16 mark, but the Orange & Blue held the Blue Hose scoreless for just over three minutes to regain a 49-34 advantage when Rickards made two free throws.
Presbyterian would again get within 11 with 2:54 on the clock, but back-to-back triples from Deans and Rimdal gave the Gators their largest lead of the game, 55-38. Seventeen is where the lead would stay for UF, holding a 59-42 lead with one frame remaining.
Deans, along side Tatyana Wyche, connected on three jumpers to start the final quarter, giving Florida a 65-42 leadless than three minutes into the quarter. Presbyterian wouldn’t get within 18 again during the remainder of the game, with the Gators closing out strong to take a 78-52 victory.
Up Next
The Gators will travel to Coral Gables, Fla., on Sunday Dec. 11, for a 4 p.m. ET matchup with Miami who is receiving votes in the latest AP poll. The game will be aired live on the ACC Network.
Head Coach Kelly Rae Finley
On playing with consistency…
“I thought we were consistent. We were much more consistent late in the first quarter, had a little bit of a lull, and then headed into that second quarter. I thought, overall, what we’ve been talking about is being more consistent, being more purposeful in our offensive execution, understanding the value of a possession. So, it might have been one of our lower turnover games, probably the lowest of the year, with eleven. I’m really pleased with that.”
On her evaluation of the team through 10 games…
“I like our grit. I like our resiliency. I think there’s a lot of games that we’ve played, and KK can attest to this, that could have gone another way. Our attention to detail down the stretch and our execution, I would say, borders on being elite. The key for us is being able to sustain that and play for four quarters in that way. I think we’re growing. I think we’re definitely improving. I see a much better understanding on the floor of what we’re looking for. I felt that tonight and I felt that in the last game at Dayton. I think its reflected in our shooting percentage. Then it’s just continuing to grow on the defensive end of the floor and understand where to pick and choose to take risks. When we start to understand each other better, then we can cover for each other better. So, I’d say it’s about midway through the second quarter of our season. Heading into the break will be the end of the second quarter. I’m pleased with our progress and obviously we have a lot more areas to grow in.”
Senior Guard KK Deans
On the pace the Gators played with…
“Playing with pace is one of our strengths. We really do well in transition; our guards get out and our posts run the lanes. We’re getting better at seeing our drags and we don’t have to run a set every time and that’s what makes us really strong. We’ve got to keep that pace up and not lacking on defense, keeping that pace, not just on offense, but on defense as well.”
On rejuvenating her team in the third quarter…
“Just knowing when my team needs me, I know Taty always looks at me, when we’re down, and says ‘okay KK, it’s time,’ or Zippy be like, ‘alright, we need a bucket,’ it’s just about picking and choosing when it’s time to do that. We have a lot of scorers on our team. Nina can score, Berte can score, Leilani can score, Shay can score, I mean it doesn’t matter who’s going to be on that night. Being able to be there when they need is how I can help them.”
– The Gators now hold a 2-0 advantage in the all-time series with Presbyterian.
– The Orange & Blue extended their home nonconference winning streak to 21 games, tying the program record.
– Taliyah Wyche grabbed a career-high nine rebounds.
– Myka Perry scored her first collegiate point for the Gators with a free throw at the 3:29 mark. She connected on her first field goal with 1:12 on the clock in the fourth quarter.
– Paige Clausen scored her first career point for UF after knocking down a free throw with 1:37 remaining in the game.
– The Gators have now won seven-straight games, their longest winning streak since the 2015-16 season when they won 12 in-a-row.
– Florida is now 19-0 under Kelly Rae Finley when holding opponents to under 60 points.
– Holding a 9-1 record this season, the Gators are off to their best start since the 2015-16 season.
– Florida now owns 797 wins as a program. They will be the 13th team to surpass the 800-win mark in the SEC when they claim three more wins.
– With 18 points on Tuesday, KK Deans now holds 917 career points, inching closer to her 1,000th career-point.