In the quarter finals of the National Invitational Tournament, the Florida Gators basketball team fell to the George Washington Colonials on the road in Washington D.C. on Wednesday night with a final score of 82-77.
The last time the Gators played the Colonials on the road was in 1939, where they fell 49-36. However, seventy-seven years later the Florida Gators were looking to change that tune.
Florida came out with the first basket of the game from Kasey Hill with a jump shot, yet their lead did not last for long as GW answered with a three-ball just thirty seconds later to lead 3-2. These first few minutes foreshadowed how the rest of the first half of the game would go.
The game tied up eight times in the first half with each team taking turns scoring and not putting up much of a contest on the defensive side of the ball. KeVaughn Allen, Justin Leon and Kasey Hill producing on the offense is the only reason that the Gators didn’t fall behind.
Florida fought hard to finish the half on the upside of the scoreboard after a trey from Justin Leon put them up by one at 34-33 with 1:53 left until halftime. However the Gators were unable to put the stops on the Colonials as they got a tip-in and two free throws to put them up by three points at 37-34 with 55 seconds on the clock.
Kevarrius Hayes was able to get some more points up for Florida with a quick layup assisted by Hill with 22 seconds to go, but with just three seconds on the clock GW came back with a layup to keep them in the lead with a score of 39-36 for the half.
Coming back from the locker room, the Gators were ready to change the game. KeVaughn Allen came out with a quick dunk just thirty seconds in to put UF down by just one point – an easy deficit to overcome, or so it seemed. Unfortunately for Florida, George Washington was quick to come back with a layup of their own to put them back up with a three-point lead.
This is when the game started to echo the first half of the game with the score sticking within a single-digit gap. George Washington held on to the lead for the majority of the half, getting as far away as eight-point lead over Florida. That is until the Gators went on an 8-0 run ending with an exclamation point dunk from Hayes to tie the game at 55 with 10:55 to go.
From there the Colonials managed to pull away once more to a lead of six points over the Gators, but Florida was not ready to go down that easily. UF managed to take back the lead after a free throw from Dorian Finney-Smith at 71-70 with just 3:42 on the clock.
The game tied up at 73 just a minute later after a jumper by Chris Chiozza, giving the Gators back some confidence in their game. However, Florida sent George Washington to the charity stripe, which resulted in the Gators being down by one with 1:07 to go. It was crunch time for Florida to take over the game and for George Washington to secure their lead.
Unfortunately for Gator fans, just seconds later GW drained a three-pointer and a free throw to put them back leading by two possessions at 77-73. The Colonials continued to hit last minute threes, and despite Chiozza hitting three to bring the Gators within one possession at 80-77 with 12 seconds to go, Florida just could not stop their momentum.
George Washington managed to score one more time before the final buzzer to put the final score at 82-77, thus ending the season and the journey for the Florida Gators men’s basketball team in the NIT. The Gators finished with a 21-15 record in Mike White’s first season in Gainesville.