Photo by Benjamin Fox /

After dropping its first five conference games, the Florida Gators women’s basketball team tallied one for the win column Sunday after beating the Auburn Tigers 68-54.

The game got off to a perfect start for head coach Cam Newbauer and his squad. After scoring the first 11 points of the game, the Gators ended the opening frame leading 21-8 behind 10 early points from Kiara Smith. A 9-0 run in the 2nd quarter later and Florida went to the locker room at halftime nursing a 14-point lead.

The Tigers had pulled back within seven points with 5:29 left in the fourth quarter, but Florida ended the game on a 12-5 run to finish with the exact same 14-point margin having never trailed for the entirety of the game. The Gators made six more shots than Auburn despite taking nine less attempts, their recipe for overcoming and nullifying the Tigers’ 20 offensive rebounds.

Smith didn’t slow down after her mammoth first quarter and she finished the game with a double-double, shooting 9-14 from the field and finishing with a game-leading 22 points, 13 rebounds and five steals. Lavender Briggs, who scored 41 points her last game out against Arkansas, added 18 points of her own, the two once again leading the way offensively.

Some freshman made impacts Sunday as well, as Jordyn Merritt pulled down eight rebounds and Floor Toonders had a pair of rebounds, assists and steals. Sophomore Nina Rickards grabbed seven boards of her own.

Honesty Scott-Grayson lead the Auburn offense with 18 points, and Unique Thompson had a double-double of her own with 14 points and rebounds each as both players went 6-14 from the field. Auburn out-rebounded Florida (44-41) and put up 68 shots, but shot under 28% from the field including a measly 4-23 from beyond the three-point line.

Newbauer and his team take the court again Thursday in Nashville, Tennessee to take on Vanderbilt, a game that was just rescheduled Friday.

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