Florida Opens 2023 with Victory at Texas A&M

In a defensive slugfest, Florida women’s basketball managed to open 2023 with a victory on the road at Texas A&M, defeating the Aggies 55-48 on Sunday afternoon.
The Gators (12-3, 1-1 SEC) were led by Nina Rickards with 14 points while Ra Shaya Kyle (12) and Alberte Rimdal (10) also reached double-figures for the Orange & Blue. As a team, Florida ended 22-of-55 (40%) from the field and 2-of-13 (60%) from three-point range, with both coming from Rimdal.
On the glass, Florida outrebounded Texas A&M (5-7, 0-2 SEC) 33-27, led by seven from Rickards. Senior Faith Dut brought down five and Jeriah Warren also ended with five, four of which were offensive. Florida allowed just two offensive rebounds for the Aggies. In the paint, UF held a 36-14 scoring advantage.
Defensively, the Gators held Texas A&M to 18-of-41 (41.9%) shooting and a 4-of-9 (44.4%) effort from three. The Orange & Blue forced 13 turnovers that resulted in 13 points and translated into four steals.
Texas A&M was led by Aaliyah Patty with 15 points, three rebounds and two assists.
The Aggies opened the game with four-consecutive points, keeping the Gators off the board until Rimdal converted a driving layup with 7:31 on the clock. Her layup began an 8-0 run, capped-off by a Myka Perry layup, helping the Gators to a 10-8 lead at the end of one.
Offense was much easier to come by in the second quarter with both squads exchanging buckets to a 17-17 stalemate with 5:25 left in the period following a strong take to the bucket from Warren. The Gators were able to open-up some breathing room thanks to back-to-back buckets from Dut and Rickards at the end of the period to take a 27-22 lead into the break. The SEC foes found themselves tied six times in the opening 20 minutes.
Florida briefly extended their lead to seven following a pair of Kyle free throws to start the second half, but the Aggies responded with a 6-0 spurt to close within 29-28 at the 6:01 mark. The Aggies took their first lead of the second half with 2:30 showing on the clock, 36-33, after a Patty triple and that is where the score would remain heading into the final frame.
Desperately needing a bucket, Rickards managed to get through the Aggie defense to start the fourth quarter and bring Florida within two. Kyle knotted the game at 37 on the next possession, but again Texas A&M had an answer with another triple to retake the lead with 8:01 remaining. Two minutes later, Rimdal found herself alone in the corner and drained a three-pointer to push the Orange & Blue back in front, 42-40.
Leading 46-44, UF crashed the offensive glass on a crucial possession with 3:28 left in the game and Warren gave the Gators a 48-44 lead off of a second-chance opportunity.  The Gators put the nail in the coffin on the next possession as it was again Rimdal sinking a three to extend the lead to seven. Florida managed to capitalize on the momentum, holding on for a 55-48 win.
Up Next
Florida will hit the road again on Thursday, Jan. 5, when they travel to Fayetteville, Ark., for an 8 p.m. ET matchup with the Razorbacks.
Head Coach Kelly Rae Finley
On Sunday’s game…
“It was a really competitive, great game. Both teams played hard and it was probably more of a chess match than it was a game of checkers today. I liked our team’s effort and I liked our ability to finish down the stretch. Something that we’ve been working on is we have to learn how to win. We have to learn how to win in this league, so I liked how we finished.”
On overcoming shooting woes…
“I believe, as a coach, in training your mind probably more so than you train your body and different things like that. I think both teams really wanted this game and we have the upmost respect for Joni and her staff and how they play the game of basketball. Going into the fourth quarter, I just asked our team to take a deep breath, close their eyes and imagine a big trash can and that was going to be the rim. You’re shooting with a pebble and get that ball to go into the trash can. Sometimes when you take the pressure off of each shot, somebody’s got to shoot in order to score, and it paid off for us in the fourth quarter.”
On the slow pace of the game…
“They like to play at quite a bit slower of a pace than we do and they did a really nice job of playing at their pace. They were able to sit under our ball handler in transition, so we couldn’t get any easy looks quickly at the rim, which slowed us down and made us go into our half court offenses. That definitely played to their advantages.”
– Florida picked-up their third-ever win against the Aggies and second on the road.
– The Gators move to 2-2 when playing on New Year’s Day, with their last win coming on Jan. 1, 1990, against Maine, 78-73.
– Freshman Myka Perry recorded a career-best four points.
– The Gators took care of the ball, recording a season-low nine turnovers.
– Florida officially recorded their 800th win as a program, becoming the 13th SEC program to accomplish the feat.
– Holding the Aggies to 48 points, the Gators improve to 21-0 under Kelly Rae Finley when holding opponents to 60 points or less.