Photo by Brian Fox | ChompTalk

The Florida Gator women’s basketball team defeated the North Florida Ospreys 82-64 at home in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center for their season opener.

UF senior forward Faith Dut won the tipoff for Florida, and senior guard Leilani Correa scored the first points for the Gators. Offensively, Florida found its groove and weighed in with a 9-6 lead early in the first quarter.

“Scoring is important, but there’s so many other factors in the game of basketball,” Correa said. “Wins come out of rebounding steals, assists and getting your teammates the ball.”

A fast break layup from UF senior guard Aliyah Matharu pushed the Gators’ lead to 13-7 after a line of defensive errors allowed the Ospreys to take advantage.

A Florida turnover brought an offensive explosion for North Florida, which they were able to respond from their deficit with a play that the Gators could not catch onto, and brought their score within four, 17-13, to close out the first quarter.

UF dominated the second quarter, leaving North Florida in an eight-point deficit. A steal from UF senior center Ra Shaya Kyle regained possession of the ball for the Gators. A jumper from UF junior forward Eriny Kindred upped Florida’s score to 29-18.

North Florida struggled in the second quarter against the Gators’ quick defense mechanisms. However, the Ospreys responded with a fast break down the court and a layup with hopes to outscore Florida.

A tired Florida offense allowed North Florida to gain possession of the ball with seven seconds left in the second half, but with the clock ticking, the Ospreys could not score.

The Gators led 32-26 heading into halftime.

Matharu drilled a 3-point jumper to open the third quarter. North Florida responded with a defensive rebound and a 3-point jumper by Ospreys freshman guard Alexa Washington. Kindred, with a jumper, pushed Florida’s score to 47-38.

The Gators battled through the third quarter and increased their lead by almost double that of North Florida. In the final moments, Correa scored hit a buzzer-beater to push Florida’s lead to 59-42.

UF continued to pave the way offensively with a 3-point shot from junior guard Alberte Rimdal. Correa brought the momentum as she made a pivotal steal on a fast break to score.

Florida remained on an eleven-point scoring streak in their 72-50 lead. As North Florida powered through, working their way back, the Gators continued to hold them down into a double-digit deficit.

The Ospreys fought to stay alive in the game with back-to-back layups. Florida banked at an 82-64 lead in the final moments of the game.

Final plays from North Florida did not cut a fierce Florida offense, as they failed to get within reach of the Gators.

The Gators will take on the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats at 6 p.m. Thursday.

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