Florida Gators women’s basketball wins season opener

Special report on the Florida Gators women’s basketball team:
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Florida’s three seniors helped make Cameron Newbauer’s Florida Gators women’s basketball coaching debut a success, as the trio combined for 51 points in an 82-66 season-opening victory against Georgia State at Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Saturday.

Dyandria Anderson scored 18 points with seven rebounds and eight assists – with just two turnovers.

Haley Lorenzen tallied the fifth double-double of her career with 18 points and a career-high-tying 12 rebounds.

Fifth-year senior transfer Paulina Hersler opened her Gator career with a career-best 15 points with the aid of a trio of threes.

Junior newcomer Funda Nakkasoglu and sophomore Delicia Washington both added nine points, along with six and five rebounds, respectively.

And all 11 Gators scored, with the final bucket coming from freshman Mikayla Hayes, who converted a layup with one second remaining for her first collegiate points.

It was a great time for all the Gators, however, it didn’t start out quite as jubilant.

The Panthers scored the first eight points of the game and led for the entire first half until the final 2:35, when Anderson knocked down one of UF’s 10 three-pointers in the game and gave the Gators a 32-31 advantage.

A three-point-play by Lorenzen extended the lead and Hersler tacked on two more points for a 37-31 lead with 50 seconds until halftime.

Freshman Tameria Johnson and sophomore Sydney Searcy entered the game for the first time with 17 seconds remaining and their presence was immediately felt. Johnson collected a steal and found Searcy, who was fouled attempting a shot. She made one free throw before ended the half with another steal that ended the Panther’s final offensive possession.

The teams went back and forth in the scoring column for the first few minutes of the third quarter before an 8-0 spurt extended the Gator lead to 14 points, 50-36.

Georgia State used the long ball to keep it close and Florida held a 58-49 advantage entering the final quarter.

Florida outscored the Panthers 12-3 to start the fourth and never looked back.

All three Gator freshmen scored their first points in the final 3:55 of the game.

Jalaysha Thomas, who finished with six rebounds in 12 minutes, put back an offensive rebound with 3:55 on the clock and Johnson got on the scoreboard with a layup and 15 seconds left before Hayes capped the game’s scoring just before the final buzzer.

Scoring Leaders

* Florida: Anderson and Lorenzen both score a team-high 18 points

* Georgia State: Jada Lewis scored a game-high 20 points and led three Panthers in double-figures

Individual Numbers & News of Note

* Lorenzen posted the fifth double-double of her career; tied a career-high with 12 rebounds; her 18 points were two shy of her career high; 40th career double-figure scoring game

* Anderson’s 18 points where one shy of her career-high; 12th career double-figure scoring game

* Hersler notched the third double-figure scoring game of her career and the 15 points were a career-best

* Hersler and Nakkasoglu were the first non-freshmen to start a season-opener since the 2012-13 season (Vicky McIntrye, Junior)

Team Numbers of Note

* The Gators improved to 26-18 all-time on opening day.

* Florida improves to 7-3 in the first game under a new head coach.

* The Gators won their 10th consecutive non-conference home game.

* Florida went 10-31 from the three-point arc for the most made treys since hitting 10 vs. Kentucky in the 2016 SEC Tournament; the 31 attempts were the most since launching 34 (program record) vs. North Florida on Nov. 19, 2012

* Seven different Gators connected on a three-pointer

Florida Postgame Quotes:

Coach Cameron Newbauer
Opening Statement:
Thank you for showing up, I really appreciate you all coming out to support. We had a talk as a staff recently about our resiliency and how it was lacking and I think today our players showed resilience. There were a couple of times early when they punched us in the face, but we fought back and I am really proud of that.”

“I am really proud of these three [Lorenzen, Anderson and Hersler]. Looking at the stat sheet, Haley with 18 and 12, with three assists and one turnover, that’s a heck of a day. Dee Anderson – 18 points, seven rebounds, eight assists and two steals, that’s a big day. She has done a great job working on her shot. Paulina sure does look good in the Gator orange and blue, so we sure are happy to have her here. She went 6-for-9 and did a great job getting to the rim. Overall, it was a great team effort. We put some people in situations that they hadn’t experienced before and they stepped up to the challenge. We had 22 assists on 31 field goals and we made 10 threes, so overall, tons of positives. We’ve got to get better on the offensive rebound end in terms of boxing out. We did a good job getting stops in the second half even if we did give up some offensive rebounds. Overall, proud of our resilience. Any time you are plus eight on the glass and plus seven in assists and score over 80, that’s a good day.”

On what he said at the half:
“Great job, way to fight and way to play. I feel like we had taken their best shot, they started out on fire but I think we responded to that. In every first game, there are nervous, anxious jitters and we did a good job weathering those and coming out and competing in the second half.”

On making sure the players stay calm:
“We had urgency, but we needed to work on staying calm. Part of that is my fault; in practice I speed them up, so when they are used to that style of fast-paced play, so we come in in a bit of a frenzy. Our players did a good job staying calm. Their excitedness to play today was terrific and that is why we played hard.”

“We always talk about just playing the next play and controlling what we can control.”

On the amount of shooting volume today:
“We practice lots of threes, I have more confidence than some of the players do in our three-point shooting ability. I will take today’s 32% because we made 10 threes. If you want to tell me that Funda is going to go 1-for-7 every game, you are crazy. We really didn’t shoot it well, but 32% with 10 threes, I’ll take it. We took the right shots, they weren’t forced and our players looked comfortable shooting those shots.”

On playing inside-out:
“We don’t really say we want to go inside-out, we just want to take the best shot possible. I trust our players to have that freedom in transition to take that quick shot. We didn’t post up enough, but we did do a good job sharing the ball and getting it into the paint to make some really easy baskets. Today we went outside-in.

On effort of bench:
“That’s what I was talking about when I mentioned putting players in situations that they hadn’t been in before. To call upon Sydney and Tameria, knowing what skills they are best at – their athleticism – wouldn’t show up in the box score, but they came up big with two steals for us. That’s what I talk about when I say all hands on deck, everyone has to be ready. Coming in and playing hard is important. They can’t control the nerves, but they can control playing hard. We learned a lot today by putting people in different positions and having them just play.”

On what his first game as a Gator meant to him:
“Proud. Before the game, you aren’t thinking much about the moment, you are just thinking about if we are prepared. As a head coach, you are worried, uncertain, unsure, but oftentimes I find that my players will put me at ease and that is what they did. That’s why I say proud. What these three did, knowing the struggles we have had in 31 days of training to build this – we gave people something to watch. I am just really proud of the people up here.”

*

Senior Haley Lorenzen
On taking in the new era:
“I felt just like I did when I first stepped in here as a freshman. You still have those pregame jitters, it’s an even cooler feeling knowing I have these two by my side and we are going to do whatever we can to put this team in a position to succeed. I just focused on having fun tonight. I wasn’t trying to make shots, I was just doing what I could control. We all try to lead with our voices and by example, we know what bar we have to set moving forward.”

On setting new highs today:
“It is not about the personal statistics, I want to help lead this team somewhere and I don’t want to just further my strengths. I don’t care if I score 0 points or 25 points, as long as the Gators are winning that is all I care about.”

On what the game meant today:
“Coach Cam said it all. We couldn’t be more proud of the way we responded as a team as well. We are aware of the struggles we have faced each and every day at practice. Everyone got a little better today, it doesn’t matter if you played the majority of the game or the smallest fraction, every minute matters. It is the we over me mindset that Coach Cam has set for us and we have embraced it as a team and as a culture. I could not be more proud as a senior of the younger kids succeeding.”

*

Senior Dyandria Anderson
On approaching the full-court press:
“It caught us off-guard a bit, but coach called a time out to have us make sure we were finding the open person. Once we started doing that, we broke it easy and they moved back to the half-court press.”

On what the game meant today:
“To see the babies come out and just play, they are nervous but they score their first basket and realize they know what’s going on, it brings a smile to my face. It is a proud moment, you feel like a big sister, having my little sister succeed at something she really wanted.”

*

Senior Paulina Hersler
On getting a career-high in her first game as a Gator:
“I didn’t really focus on myself or my personal expectations. It was our first, last game and it was my first game as a Gator. There were a lot of nerves and excitement, so I was focused more on that – staying together and playing together.”

*

Georgia State Head Coach Sharon Baldwin
“I don’t think we were intimidated coming in, but as they game went on, they exposed us on the inside. Our post play has to get a lot better and we have to be a lot tougher. Our defense has got to get a lot better as well, we gave up a lot of open shots. We cannot afford those defensive breakdowns.”

“Shay [Fluker] is a competitor who came ready to play. She is going to be able to do a lot of good things for us this year, we just have to mesh everybody together and be ready to go and play the next one.”

“I think [Jada Lewis] took a couple of quick shots a couple of times when we were making a run, but she played pretty well. We’ve gotten get better before we get out there again.”

“We have to be ready for Mississippi State, regroup and watch some film and really get down to the basics. More than anything I think we need to be more sound fundamentally.”

What’s Next for the Gators

* Who: Arkansas State (0-1) – lost at Indiana (93-51) on Saturday

* When: Tue., Nov. 14 at 7 p.m.

* Where: Exactech Arena, Gainesville, FL

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Andrew Spivey
Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for Rivals.com, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.