The Florida Gators are not ready for their season to be over. Backed by a big night from senior guard Nina Rickards, the Gators defeated Wake Forest to advance to the WNIT Super 16. Florida topped the Demon Deacons 80-63 in Winston Salem, NC Monday.
Florida started quickly out of the gates, scoring the first seven points of the game as Jeriah Warren connected on a three and made a jumper before Faith Dut capped the run with a made basket. Wake followed with a 13-2 run of their own and closed the first quarter with a 15-11 advantage.
The Gators opened the second quarter with three straight three-pointers to take a 20-15 lead. Midway through the period Alberte Rimdal and Jordyn Merritt connected on back-to-back treys to stretch the lead to ten at 28-18. Rimdal knocked down a pair of free throws with 0:01 left in the first half to send Florida into the locker room with a 33-24 lead.
Much of the third quarter was a back and forth affair that saw neither team make a run of more than two until the Deacs closed to within four at the 1:57 mark of the period. The Gators’ answer was immediate, however, as Rickards scored the final five points of the third en route to a 51-42 lead heading into the final ten minutes of game action.
Wake closed the gap to ten with 6:58 remaining in regulation, but from there Florida knocked down shots and cruised to the win. The Gators made 9-14 from the floor in the final period, including 4-7 from beyond the three-point line.
Rickards finished with 25 points on 10-17 from the floor. Jordyn Merritt added 15 points and eight rebounds while KK Deans finished with a double-double, 13 points and 10 assists. As a team, Florida made 48% of their attempts from the field and hit 12-25 from three-point range.
Next up for Florida: the Clemson Tigers on Friday. The Tigers (19-15) defeated Auburn 56-55 Monday. Clemson is led by head coach Amanda Butler, who spent ten years at the helm at Florida.