Florida Unable to Stave Off Georgia Comeback, Fall 82-77 on Sunday

Florida women’s basketball gave a valiant effort on Sunday afternoon, but was unable to stop a Georgia comeback attempt, falling to the Lady Bulldogs 82-77 in Exactech Arena.
The Gators (12-5, 1-3 SEC) were led by KK Deans who tallied 21 points, including a 5-of-9 effort from deep while Nina Rickards (17), Alberte Rimdal (12) and Ra Shaya Kyle (11) all recorded double-figures scoring efforts. As a team, Florida shot a strong 26-of-50 (52%) from the floor and 12-of-24 (50%) from deep, while Georgia (13-5, 2-2 SEC) ended 29-of-65 (44.6%) from the field and 4-of-14 (28.6%) from three-point range.
Of the 26 made shots from the Orange & Blue, 19 were assisted on, led by six from Rickards and four from Rimdal, both just one shy of their career-highs. The Lady Bulldogs finished with 14 assists, also getting six from Diamond Battles.
On the glass, Georgia outrebounded Florida, 35-29, which included a 14-9 advantage on the offensive side of the ball. Deans, Kyle and Rickards all pulled-down five boards to lead the UF’s effort.
Defensively, Georgia’s zone pressure made the Gators uncomfortable, forcing Florida into 23 turnovers that resulted in nine steals. Florida forced 12 turnovers on the Bulldogs, resulting in five steals, with Deans and Kyle each recording two.
Georgia was led by Brittany Smith with 22 points, and Javyn Nicholson, who recorded 16 points and 12 rebounds.
There was no lack of energy in the building for the matchup between the rivals, enhanced by a strong start from the Gators. After the Lady Bulldogs opened with a 4-2 lead, back-to-back triples from Rimdal and Deans got the crowd going and gave the Orange & Blue an 8-4 advantage. Georgia got it back within one, but Rickards found an open Rimdal in the corner for her second triple of the game with 2:32 on the clock, giving UF a 14-10 lead.
Leading 16-14 heading into the second quarter, Florida found themselves in a back-and-forth affair, with neither squad pulling ahead by more than three until Deans went end-to-end for an and-one layup at the 4:24 mark, giving the Orange & Blue a 28-24 lead. Two minutes later, Deans delivered her third triple of the half to push Florida’s lead to five. The senior provided a crucial 14 points in the first half, helping the Gators to a 33-28 halftime advantage.
The Gators knocked down five triples in the opening 20 minutes of play while limiting the Lady Bulldogs to just 1-of-8 (12.5%) from deep and 11-of-35 (31.4%) from the floor.
Florida came out on fire to start the second half, utilizing an 8-0 run over the first two minutes, capped-off by a Rimdal three, to open-up a 41-28 lead and force Georgia to take a timeout. An 8-2 spurt from the Lady Bulldogs brought the opposition back within seven before Faith Dut lined up a triple from the top of the key to push the lead back to 10, 46-36, with 5:08 left in the period.
Five unanswered points from Georgia again closed the gap to five points, but the Gators responded in kind with a triple from Deans and lay-up from Dut to make it 51-41 at the 2:49 mark. Florida took a 57-48 cushion into the final quarter, despite the Bulldogs trimming the lead down to just four with less than two minutes remaining in the third.
The Lady Bulldogs weren’t going away, however, using a 7-0 run from 8:55 to 7:48 to make it 61-58 in favor of the Gators. Alisha Lewis tied the game for Georgia a minute two minutes later at 62 and they took the lead following a three-pointer at the 4:25 mark, 67-64. Florida was unable to pull-off the comeback of their own despite 10 points from Rickards in the final minute and a valiant effort that brought them back within one with under 20 seconds left, falling to Georgia, 82-77.
Head Coach Kelly Rae Finley
On her overall thoughts about the game…
“I thought a lot of young student-athletes got a lot of big minutes today in really key times, which is experience that you need to draw on. Should I have called a timeout with fourteen seconds to go or not? You know I’m not sure. You can go back, and you can criticize and all of those things, but our team and our coaching staff has great communication and a desire to improve. We’re 1-3, that’s not exactly where we want to be, but I’m encouraged that we get the opportunity to play those guys again in Athens this season.”
On Nina Rickards’ performance late…
“Nina is a great player. She’s a three-level scorer, she’s hard to guard, she’s explosive, she’s athletic and she has a toughness about her which is great. It’s something that we’re used to Nina doing late in games. We are challenging her to do that earlier in games, for her to be aggressive. We are better the more aggressive she is, and that’s what you saw late game.”
– The series history moves to 63-18 in favor of the Bulldogs.
– The 52% shooting effort from the Gators marked the third time that Florida has shot over 50% in a game this season.
– Twelve triples from the Gators marked a season-best effort.
– The 12 threes also marked the third game with 10 or more threes for UF.
– Deans recorded her third 20-or-more point performance of the season.
– Kyle has now score in double-figures for five-straight games, matching her longest stretch since the opening five games of the season.