Special on the Florida Gators women’s basketball team
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Propelled by a 7-of-12 shooting, 20-point scoring effort in the fourth quarter, No. 20 Florida defeated LSU, 53-45, Sunday (Jan. 17) afternoon at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
Led by freshman guard Eleanna Christinaki‘s 11 second-half points, Florida (15-3, 3-2 SEC) took control of the game in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Tigers (7-11, 1-4 SEC), 20-7, and knocking down 58.3 percent of their shots in the final 10 minutes of action.
Florida’s 53 points, 19 field goals, 38 field goal attempts and 32 rebounds were all season lows. Nevertheless, they all came in winning effort.
Christinaki finished with a game-high 15 points, while junior guard/forward Ronni Williams finished with 11 points and nine rebounds. Sophomore center Haley Lorenzen added six points and six boards, while senior guard Carlie Needleschipped in seven points.
How It Happened
The first three quarters consisted entirely of back-and-forth basketball, resulting in six lead changes. Neither team led by more than five points until the fourth quarter.
With LSU leading 40-33 at the 8:45 mark of the fourth quarter, Haley Lorenzen‘slayup sparked what would eventually be an 11-1 run.
After a Tigers free throw pushed the lead back to six points, Williams hit a layup, cutting the deficit to four points. She then collected a crucial offensive rebound and made a put-back layup to make it a two-point game with 5:26 remaining in regulation.
Another offensive rebound from Williams set up a three-pointer for Eleanna Christinaki, giving the Gators a 42-41 lead with 4:38 remaining and they would not relinquish the rest of the way. Christinaki capped the run with a steal and a layup at the 4:01 mark.
Florida went on to make five free throws in the closing 32 seconds of regulation to seal the win.
Florida vs. LSU Series History
- UF halted a two-game losing streak to the Tigers.
- Five of the last six games in the series have been decided by nine points or less.
- UF has won four of the last six matchups in the series, with all of those victories coming by less than 10 points
- The Gators and Tigers will play again this season on February 25 in Baton Rouge
- The Gators’ all-time record against LSU improves to 13-26, including an 8-12 mark in Gainesville
- Eleanna Christinaki, Tyshara Fleming, Carlie Needles, Simone Westbrook, Ronni Williams
- Sixth different starting lineup this season
- Fleming’s and Westbrook’s first career starts
News and Numbers of Note
- The Gator win improved the team’s overall record to 15-3, tied for the third-best 18-game start in program history, trailing only the 16-2 record posted by the 2008-09 and the 2000-01 clubs.
- Surprisingly, this was Florida’s first home victory of the 2016 calendar year and its first SEC home win of the year.
- UF improved to 8-2 at home this season.
- The win was UF’s first as a ranked team since the Gators defeated Temple, 70-57, in the first round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament in Storrs, Conn.
- Today was only the 10th time in program history that the Gators won a game in which they scored fewer than 55 points
- This afternoon marked just the eighth time since the start of the 2010-11 season the Gators and their opponent combined for less than 100 points in a game. In those eight games, Florida is now 4-4
- Florida’s 38 field goal attempts were its second-lowest total in program history
- The Gators improved to 6-1 in games when they tallied fewer than 45 field goal attempts
- The Gators tallied 11 steals, their 10th consecutive game with at least 10 thefts
- UF has posted 10-plus steals in all but two games (at South Alabama; vs. Arkansas State) this season
- This was the first time this season a Gator opponent failed to convert a three-point attempt
- UF shot a season-low 42.3 percent (11-26) from the free throw line
- For only the second time this season, Eleanna Christinaki shot 50 percent from the field and attempted at least 10 field goals—the other occurrence was at No. 12 Tennessee
- Ronni Williams scored in double figures for a third straight game, and for the fifth time in UF’s last six outings
- Williams has had at least nine rebounds in each of the last four games, averaging 10.8 boards during that span.
Quotes from the Court
Florida Head Coach Amanda Butler
“It wasn’t pretty or scripted the way we planned it but, whenever you’re able to win an SEC game, you’ve got to understand how big of a deal that is. You’ve also got to understand that you won’t always play well. And to not play well and to still win is something to be celebrated.
“You’ve got to give LSU a great deal of credit for their game plan and execution. They’re obviously in a unique situation and I feel for Nikki [Fargas]—I’ve been there before. They’re playing with a lot of pride and trying to survive. They put us in a lot of situations and made it tough on us throughout the game.”
On closing out the game strong…
“We did not win the third quarter. We didn’t keep them off the offensive glass. They tried to control possession and manage the clock and then, on top of that, we gave them second chances and multiple opportunities on their trips to the basket.
“In the fourth quarter we started playing tough defense and we got the rebounds. Ronni [Williams] was a huge catalyst in that and, as we continued to get those rebounds, we answered back.”
On difference between tonight and previous games…
“Great defense. There are so many good players and coaches in this league and as high-powered as a lot of our offenses are, it’s a league that’s rooted in great defenses and great rebounding units. We want to be able to win in more than one way, and that’s satisfying knowing that we weren’t able to score a lot of points tonight yet we were able to get it done on defense.”
Florida Junior Guard/Forward Ronni Williams
On getting a home win today…
“It felt great. We stuck together and played for each other, and that’s our motto. We pulled it out for our coaches and seniors.”
On why this team has been so good in fourth quarters…
“We practice these types of situations in practice. We’ve also got Carlie Needles, who is a great leader and stays in our ears with positive energy throughout the game.”
Florida Freshman Guard Eleanna Christinaki
On Florida’s fourth-quarter spark…
“We really wanted this win and we had the opportunity to take it in front of our home crowd and our home fans. We play for our fans, our coaches and each other.”
LSU Head Coach Nikki Fargas
On today’s game…
“Our team showed a lot of heart and togetherness out there. We had been talking about maintaining that mental energy, controlling the controllable, and staying positive out there. I thought we did a good job of that. I’d like to give credit to Florida and their coach; they have a very good basketball team. They have players who are seasoned, and they played when they needed to, and gained the momentum and, obviously, put themselves in a position to win.”
On LSU’s seven-point lead in the fourth quarter…
“I thought we had the looks that we wanted. We were able to take time off the clock and really get some good looks, but you’ve got to finish out your defensive effort. I thought we had some good looks in the first three quarters and we were really able to execute and get the shots that we wanted, but, again, we’ve got to play for 40 (minutes). We have got to finish off a game, and we can’t just settle for playing three-and-a-half quarters.”
Up Next for the Gators
- Florida will cap its three-game homestand Thursday (Jan. 21) night against Alabama. Tip-off at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET, with SEC Network + streaming live coverage.