Just a week ago, it seemed as if the sky was falling on top of the Florida Gators women’s basketball program. The team was forced to play against Ole Miss short-handed (missing five key players) then learned star guard Lavender Briggs would miss the remainder of the season with an injury.
With all the animosity surrounding the program, the Gators trailed on the road at No. 25 Texas A&M by 19 points late in the third quarter, but rebounded and pulled out a gutty, double overtime victory.
On Thursday, Florida once again proved their gusto with a late come from behind, 68-63 win over Auburn to move to .500 in conference play at 2-2.
The first quarter was mostly a back and forth affair, though the Gators began to pull ahead towards the close of the opening period. Alberte Rimdal’s midrange jumper put Florida up nine with 1:02 remaining.
Just over midway through the second quarter, Florida’s lead expanded to 13 after Rimdal knocked down a triple with 4:06 before halftime. The Tigers cut the lead to five before Nina Rickards hit a jumper right before the halftime buzzer sounded.
Both teams traded jabs to open the half and Auburn got to within one following a layup by Mar’shaun Bostic with 6:41 remaining in the third. Florida acted quickly and built the lead up to nine after a Kiki Smith lay-in with 2:46 left.
Florida opened the fourth quarter with a scoring drought that lasted beyond the media timeout. The Gators missed their first seven shots of the period and turned the ball over twice to boot. Smith finally got the Gators on the board with 4:08 left on the clock. Florida went from up six at the end of the third to down three before Smith’s bucket.
Smith played a key role in the frantic finish, scoring eight of her team-high 19 in that final four-plus minutes. Smith’s drive to the basket with :34 left got her to the line, where she knocked down both free throws to put Florida up by one. Nina Rickards would ice the game for the Gators knocking down all four of her free throw attempts. On the day, Florida made 20-23 from the charity stripe that factored heavily in the win.
Florida will travel to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama on Sunday. The Crimson Tide is currently 1-4 in SEC play and 10-6 overall. Tip off is scheduled for 3:00 PM.