In the first game of the season, the Gators took on Gardner-Webb at Exactech Arena. Coach Cameron Newbauer‘s starters were Delicia Washington, Funda Nakkasoglu, Kiara Smith, Kristina Moore, and Zada Williams. The Gators fell in a tightly contested battle, 60-58.
Newbauer’s squad got out to a 17-9 first quarter lead, after a slow start to the game for both teams. In the first period UF shot 43.8% and outplayed Gardner-Webb in every statistical category.
Washington and Williams did some work on the inside in the second quarter as they had 6 points each as well as 3 and 7 rebounds respectively. The Lady Gators had a hard time containing Gardner-Webb’s Savannah Plentovich as she scored 12 points and recorded 5 rebounds on 3-4 three point shooting.
Free throw shooting in the first half was uneasy to watch as the Gators made just one free shot out of six attempts. In the same category, Gardner-Webb shot 7-8 in free throws. Regardless of the poor shooting, 2-12 from three point land and 1-6 from the line, the Gators hold to a first half 31-29 lead over the Runnin’ Bulldogs.
Gardner-Webb’s Neydja Petitomme and Carley Plentovich both caught fire combining for 14 of their teams 16 points in the third quarter as the Bulldogs would cling to a 45-42 lead heading into the final period of play.
As GW tried to hold on to the lead, Nakkasoglu put the Gators on her back as she finished with a game high 22 points. With 1:35 left on the game clock, the Gators took a 58-53 lead off a smooth Washington mid-range jumper.
At the 1:16 mark, Gardner-Webb came down and got a lay up from Gabrielle Caponegro who then quickly sets up in the full-court press. GW gets a steal off the inbound pass which leads to an easy Savannah Plentovich bucket, that made it a one point game. With 30 seconds left, the same Plentovich attacked the zone and made a highly contested floater in the lane to give the Bulldogs a 59-58 lead. Florida came down on the other end down by one and threw the ball away giving Gardner-Webb the possession and ultimately the game, after a Plentovich free throw.
Zada Williams 12 points, 10 rebounds
Delicia Washington 14 points, 8 rebounds
Funda Nakkasoglu 22 points
Savannah Plentovich 21 points, 9 rebounds
Carley Plentovich 15 points, 5 rebounds
Neydja Petithomme 10 points