Second Quarter Drought Costly for Gators in Loss at Auburn

A second quarter drought proved too much for Florida to overcome on Monday evening at Auburn, as the Gators fell to the Tigers, 66-55 inside Neville Arena.
Leilani Correa led the Gators (13-8, 2-6 SEC) with 16 points off the bench and was the lone Florida athlete in double-figures. Both KK Deans and Alberte Rimdal ended with nine points on an evening where the Gators shot 18-of-67 (26.9%) from the field, but were feeling it from deep at 10-of-22 (45.5%).
Both squads turned the ball over 14 times, which led to a 13-12 advantage in points off turnovers for the Orange & Blue. The Gators ended the night with four steals, one each from Correa, Deans, Faith Dut and Jordyn Merritt.
On the glass, Auburn (13-8, 3-6 SEC) held a 52-40 edge that included a 16-14 advantage on the offensive boards. For the second-straight game, Dut led UF’s rebounding efforts with seven, while Nina Rickards and Alberte Rimdal each grabbed five.
Auburn was led by Aicha Coulibaly with 14 points and 11 rebounds, as the Tigers shot 26-of-69 (37.7%) from the floor and just 2-of-8 (25%) from three-point range.
The Gators got started with a bang in Neville Arena, with KK Deans converting a four-point play on the opening possession of the game for the Orange & Blue. Auburn responded with a four-point spurt of their own before Dut caught a cutting Rickards through the lane to make it 6-4. With the game knotted at six, Dut put together a five-point effort of her own that included a straight-on triple with 6:11 on the clock to push Florida’s lead to 11-6.
Auburn was held without a field goal for almost five minutes in the midst of a 10-1 run that helped UF open-up a 16-7 edge before taking an 18-13 lead into the second quarter. The Gators connected on three-of-five triples in the first quarter to aid their offensive advantage.
Neither team was able to establish a rhythm to open the second quarter, battling to a near stalemate that still favored UF, 20-17, with five minutes remaining in the half. The Tigers took their first lead of the game at the 2:25 mark, 22-20, and ended the half on a 14-0 run to lead 27-20 at halftime.
Trailing by 16 with 2:08 left on the clock in the third quarter, the Gators put together an 8-0 run that featured triples from Correa and Rimdal to help close the gap to eight points, 49-41, at the 1:10 mark. Though the Tigers took a 52-43 edge into the final frame, Correa’s eight third frame points played a critical role in helping Florida claw back into the game.
The Tigers pushed their lead to 11 to open the final 10 minutes, but a triple by Correa and layup from Kyle quickly turned momentum to the Gators, making it 54-48 with under eight minutes to go. Following the first media timeout of the quarter, Auburn regained control with a 7-0 run to extend their lead to 61-48. Florida managed to get back within eight, but that was as close as the Orange & Blue would get with Auburn taking a 66-55 victory.
Up Next
It’ll be a quick turnaround for the Gators who return home on Thursday, Feb. 2, when they welcome Texas A&M for a 6 p.m. ET matchup on SEC Network+.
Head Coach Kelly Rae Finley
On Monday’s contest with Auburn…
“Unfortunately, it was a night where we had point-blank looks at the rim that we couldn’t finish, and you try to absorb that and tell them the bucket is going to open-up. What’s interesting is that we worked on finishing through contact all week. We had done a good job in practice and I was surprised to see that tonight. It was really unfortunate because it was the difference in the game.”
On Leilani Correa’s performance…
“She was able to practice just a little more this past week, which was really nice, so we could get into a rhythm with her. I think she’s starting to get the speed and the pace of the game back, which gives us a different offensive look. I was really proud of her game tonight.”