Special report on the Florida Gators women’s basketball team:
GRAMBLING, La. – Propelled by a strong fourth quarter, the University of Florida women’s basketball team opened its 2019-20 slate with a 72-65 victory over Grambling State Tuesday evening at the Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center.
Three Gators finished in double figures paced by redshirt-junior guard Kiki Smith who did a little bit of everything with 16 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
After trailing 52-51 heading into the final period, Florida found another gear and outscored the Tigers 21-13 to close out the contest.
Senior Zada Williams also added 16 points and six of them came during the crucial fourth quarter run.
Freshman guard Nina Rickards tallied 10 points, five rebounds and three steals in her first career game. Rickards wasn’t the only Gator rookie to shine in their debut as Lavender Briggs dished out a game-high eight assists to go with six points and sharpshooter Brylee Bartram connected on three 3-pointers.
The game featured 18 lead changes and six ties as the Gators and Tigers met for a highly-competitive matchup in the first-ever contest between the squads.
After back-and-forth play and Grambling St. building a lead as large as seven points, a jumper by Williams gave Florida a 55-54 edge with 9:06 to play in the fourth. From this point forward, UF would never trail. Bartram canned a three-pointer from the corner to cap a 13-2 run and put the Gators ahead 64-54 midway through the quarter.
The Gators finished with 19 assists on their 29 made field goals and outrebounded the Tigers, 44-33.
Improving to 27-19 all time in season openers, Florida withstood a pesky Grambling State offense which netted 10 three-pointers on the night.
Kristina Moore chipped in with seven points, seven rebounds and a career-best four steals. The Australian scored on a critical offensive rebound and put back late in the fourth to help seal the win.
Florida struggled out of the gates, trailing 13-10 after the first quarter, but its offense would look better and better as the game progressed as it shot 45 percent or better in each remaining quarter.
Brandi Washington scored 21 points to pace the Tigers, leading a group of three double-figure scorers.
Sunday, Nov. 10 | 3:30 p.m.
Florida (1-0) vs. Longwood (0-0)
Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center
Head Coach Cam Newbauer
Takeaways from the team’s season-opening win on the road…
“We knew this would be a tough game in a road environment with a team that scraps and really competes with you. That’s one reason why we really wanted to play a game like this is to get tested. To fight, come out on top and have young kids contribute and make some big plays late was tremendous.”
On the team’s ability to fight through slow start…
“We had a lot of people miss shots uncharacteristically early on but we kept our eyes on the rim, kept shooting, stayed the course and got the job done. That’s what’s most important.”
On Grambling State’s fast start and the team’s defense…
“The second and third quarter they shot the ball very well, so we have to do a little bit better job there. That was a tough matchup for us because they were so small and attacking and aggressive. We knew that we were going to have our hands full defensively and we got stops when we needed them.”
On the team’s victory…
“Coming in here and getting this done, it was tough but I’m glad we came here especially because we got the win.”
- This is the 46th year of Florida Gators women’s basketball.
- The Gators have posted a 27-19 mark all time in season openers.
- In his six-plus seasons as a head coach, Coach Newbauer has led his teams to a 4-3 record in season openers.
- Florida improves to 11-2 all time vs. SWAC teams and 1-0 vs. Grambling State.
- UF outscored Grambling St. 36-20 in points in the paint and won the turnover battle by committing just 11 and forcing 21.
- UF’s newcomers combined to score 31 points.
SEASON AND SINGLE GAME TICKET INFO
- Season tickets are on sale now with packages starting as low as just $45 and single game tickets are also available. Click here for ticket information
FIELD TRIP DAY
- Florida women’s basketball will host its second annual Field Trip Day on Monday, Nov. 18. Tipoff is set for 10:30 a.m. ET as local schools are invited to checkout the Gators battle Presbyterian College. Admission will be FREE for all local elementary students, teachers, administrators, and chaperones who register for the game online prior to the Nov. 11 deadline.