Gators Fall to Tennessee on Thursday

Florida women’s basketball fell to Tennessee on Thursday night inside Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in a tight matchup, 77-67.
The Gators (11-3, 0-1 SEC) were led by Alberte Rimdal who tallied a career-best 21 points on an efficient 8-of-11 effort from the field in addition to five assists and three rebounds. KK Deans contributed 16 points and five steals while Nina Rickards added 11 points.
Florida’s defense forced Tennessee (9-6, 1-0 SEC) into 23 turnovers which resulted in 11 steals and a 27-15 edge in points off of turnovers. Deans’ five steals paced the Gators while Rickards, Jeriah Warren and Tatyana Wyche each ended with two.
From the field, the Lady Vols ended their evening 28-of-58 (48.3%) and 2-of-9 (22.2%) from three-point range, while Florida shot 24-of-59 (40.7%) from the floor and 3-of-12 (25%) from deep.
A key difference in the game came on the glass, as Tennessee held a 45-27 advantage on the boards. Ra Shaya Kyle pulled-down six rebounds for the Orange & Blue, the most for the Gators.  
Rickea Jackson was the leader on the court for the Lady Vols, scoring 28 points to go along with nine rebounds on the evening.
Physicality was the name of the game from the opening tip, with the Gators forcing turnovers on Tennessee’s first two possessions in a low scoring affair early on that saw a 6-6 tie at the first media break. The Gators made the Lady Vols uncomfortable, forcing six turnovers in the opening five minutes of the game. Florida used an 8-2 run to open up a 14-8 advantage following two Rimdal free throws, but the Lady Vols responded in-kind to make it 15-14 in favor of the Gators at the end of one. The Orange & Blue forced 10 turnovers in the opening frame.
With 8:52 showing on the clock in the second quarter, Rickards found Faith Dut in the corner for a triple that sparked a quick 5-0 spurt, resulting in a 22-17 lead for UF. The Lady Vols again had an answer for the Gators, using a 7-1 run of their own to take a 24-23 lead at the 6:06 mark. Tennessee saw their lead extend to six before three-consecutive layups, featuring two from Deans, brought the Gators back even with the Lady Vols at 31. The visitors would take a 36-31 lead into the half.
Tennessee opened the second half with a 9-1 run to take a 45-32 lead until Rimdal took over and put together back-to-back buckets to bring the Gators within nine, 45-36, at the 4:30 mark. Rimdal scored seven of Florida’s 15 points in the third, but the Lady Vols held a 56-46 lead with 10 minutes remaining.
The Lady Vols scored the first bucket of the final frame, but momentum would shift to the Gators after another 5-0 burst from Rimdal to shrink the UT lead to 58-51 with 8:07 remaining. Deans then got her time to shine, using five-straight of her own to make it 61-56 just 1:30 later. While the Gators would keep within striking distance at five, that would be as close as they would get with Tennessee hanging on for a 77-67 victory.
Up Next
The Gators will head to College Station, Texas, for a New Year’s Day matchup at Texas A&M. The Sunday game is slated for a 2 p.m. ET tip and will air live on SEC Network.
Head Coach Kelly Rae Finley
On tonight’s game…
“How fun to be back in SEC play. We had tremendous effort, our crowd was outstanding tonight and I need to give a big shout-out and thanks to everyone who was able to make it. The support was outstanding and really made a difference in our game. Thank you to everyone who was able to watch in person and thank you to everyone who watched on tv. I thought going into this game about playing like us. I thought we saw that tonight. I don’t like consolation prizes, but we played really hard on both ends of the floor and forced 23 turnovers. On the defensive end of the floor we did very well. Rickea Jackson is a pro. Jordan Horston is a pro. We tried to change things up on them and Rickea had one of her best games of her season, so hats off to her and hats off to their team.”
On finishing the game…
“KK’s three that she took late, I’d take that again. I like that shot for her…that’s a good look for us and I like the pace we played at through the center of the floor. We played much faster which is more in-tune with our game. From an offensive prospective, we were able to take advantage of different mismatches that we felt we would have. We executed fairly well, it’s just a matter of a couple of those shots going down late or a couple bobbled-passes, a couple late-game executions. Overall, I’m not sure we would change much.”
Sophomore Alberte Rimdal
On the late game rally and confidence moving forward…
“We just don’t give up. We want to win and even though there’s only two minutes left, we’re going to give our best. We’re going to compete the whole game.”
– With 21 points, Alberte Rimdal now boasts a new career-high.
– KK Deans matched a season-high with five steals.
– Forcing 23 turnovers, the Gators forced the Lady Vols into their most turnovers against Florida since Jan. 7, 2016 when Tennessee ended with 21.
– Deans scored 16 points, bringing her closer to her 1,000th point, currently at 992.