BY: Jenna Ladd
After taking off with the lead in the first half of the game, the Florida Gators (8-5) were able to keep up their momentum for a win of 63-51 over the North Florida Ospreys (7-6) on Sunday afternoon at the Stephen O’Connell Center.
When it came down to it, North Florida offense could not combat the Florida defense, with the Gators forcing 24 turnovers and scoring 18 points from those turnovers. Unlike the Ospreys, the Gators favored shooting from inside the paint with 24 of their 63 points coming from inside in contrast to North Florida’s 14 of 51. Carlie Needles seemed to be in a shooting slump in the first half, but still ended up with 7 points.
Breakout freshman Haley Lorenzen was this games’ leading scorer for the Gators, raking in a total of 14 points and also tied for leading rebounder with Ronni Williams for 8 rebounds. Cassie Peoples, Brooke Copeland and Williams were not far behind, with Peoples bringing in 12 points, Copeland with 11 and Williams with 10.
North Florida was only able to get a 1-point lead at most in the first half, but it only was short lived, lasting just :39. The Gators held the lead for the remainder of the first half with, and kept their momentum flowing, refusing to give up the lead in the second half.
Despite the fairly close game, North Florida could not fight hard enough to take the victory away from Florida. With both teams coming into Sunday’s game with a 7-5 record, this game was the deciding factor of which team would advance past the other.
Unlike their track record this season, the Gators valued the ball from the beginning of the game and didn’t let up when in the lead, working hard to maintain the score gap. However, the Gators’ strong momentum does not mean that it was not a close game, where Florida went with a close 34-30 lead into halftime.
Keeping with the trend of the first half, Florida was set on taking the win over North Florida, stopping their valiant efforts at making a comeback. In the second half, Florida took off nailing 12 points within the first 10 minutes, widening the score gap and lowering the chances of a North Florida comeback.
The freshman Gators really helped the team to seal the deal with Dyandria Anderson, Copeland and Lorenzen combining to put up 15 of the 29 points scored in the second half. Florida also greatly benefited by getting free throw opportunities and taking full advantage of them, missing only 3 of 12 in the second half of the game. Taking advantage of these opportunities and not letting up when they held the lead allowed the Gators to take the 63-51 win over the Ospreys.
The next game for the Florida Gators will be their first of their SEC conference schedule in Gainesville on January 2 at 7:00 p.m. against the Louisiana State University Tigers (5-5). This game will be available to watch on television on the SEC Network.