By: Jenna Ladd
After Savannah State (4-1) took an early lead over Florida’s struggling offense, the Gators were not able to recover and suffered a loss of 58-68 to the Lady Tigers, making them 5-2 for the season on Thursday night in Savannah, Georgia.
When it comes down to it, the Gator offense just could not combat the Tiger defense. Over the course of the game, Florida gave up a shocking total of 25 turnovers. Even though Florida led Savannah State in field goal percentage, free throw percentage and 3-pointer percentages, it just wasn’t enough to upset the Tigers at home.
Florida was only able to get a 2-point lead at most, but it only lasted :58 in the first half. The Gators did not get a lead over the Tigers in the second half at all, allowing the Tigers to take off with the lead.
Cassie Peoples led the Gators on the scoreboard, putting up 15 points. In a turn of events, the leading rebounder was not the #4 SEC in rebounding, Carlie Needles. On Thursday, it was Kayla Lewis who led the team with 10 rebounds and she didn’t stop there. Lewis also put up 12 points of her own.
Despite the efforts of the team, it just was not enough to take home a victory. This win over Florida just might have been the biggest win at home for the Savannah State women’s basketball program. At the same time, one of the shocking loses for Florida, especially coming off of a 30-point win over Virginia Tech on Monday.
Essentially, Florida just couldn’t battle the defensive pressure and well-executed game plan of Savannah State. The Gators simply did not value the ball from the very beginning of the game, and consequently gave it up to the Tigers who put their possessions to good use.
In the last few minutes of the first half, it started to look as if the Gators would make a comeback when they tied up the score at 28 with 1:41 left. The half finished off at a close score of 28-31, giving Florida time in the locker room to re-evaluate their game plan and a chance to refresh before the second half.
However, during the half the Savannah State Lady Tigers refreshed as well and came back strong and ready to win the ball game. Just 2 minutes into the second half, Savannah State took their lead of three and more than doubled it to seven points with a score of 30-37. From then, the momentum for the Tigers took off and refused to slow down. Thus making a point of no return for the Gators.
After a loss to a team that was expected to be an easier win than past games, the Gators need to re-evaluate their offense and how they use the ball when they have possession. They won’t have much time to mull over the loss before the Gators take on their in-state rivals at Florida State at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday in Tallahassee.