Final: Florida 74, Mississippi 72
Gainesville, FL- The Florida Gators raced out to a double-digit advantage, watched it disappear, then proved resilient in the final few moments as they defeated Mississippi on Thursday.
The Gators found their stride shooting to open the game as they knocked down seven of their first eight shots and led by nine before the Rebels made it into the scoreboard. By the end of the first quarter, Florida had built a thirteen point lead on 9-14 from the field.
Despite the fast start Ole Miss was able to get back into the contest rather quickly as the Jekyll and Hyde nature of this year’s Florida team took full effect. The Gators made just two baskets in the second and were outscored 18-8. The two teams went into intermission with Florida leading 35-32.
The two sides played even in the third quarter. The Gators came out and immediately upped the advantage to seven at 39-32, but the Rebels continued to fight and claw back. A mid-range jumper by Deja Cage as the clock expired pushed Mississippi back to within three heading into the final period of play.
The fourth quarter was a back and forth affair as the Rebels took their first lead at 61-60 with 8:01 to play. Ole Miss held a four point lead (70-66) with 2:55 remaining, but Florida’s resilience kicked in.
Layups by Lavender Briggs and Kiki Smith pushed the Gators back to even with just over two minutes remaining setting the stage for an exciting finish.
Cage gave Ole Miss the lead on a second chance bucket, but freshman Faith Dut made the tying basket with a nice juke move that gave her the opening.
Briggs controlled the ball and was fouled along the perimeter, and was awarded a pair of free throws.
Briggs calmly and confidently sank both from the charity stripe and stole the ball on the other end to seal the victory.
Florida improved to 13-11 on the season while Ole Miss fell to 7-17 and 0-11 in league play.
- Lavender Briggs: 23 points, 11-13 FT, 8 rebounds, 4 assists
- Kiki Smith: 12 points, 3 rebounds
- Kristina Moore: 10 points, 4 rebounds
- Zada Williams: 9 points, 9 rebounds
- Faith Dut: Career high 9 points
- FG% : 43
- 3FG : 27
- FT% : 66
- Reb+/- : +11
- Assists: 12
- TO: 12
- Bench Points: 18
Florida will travel to Columbia to face the Missouri Tigers on Sunday. Mizzou is 6-18 overall and boasts just a 3-8 record in SEC action.