The Florida Gators (3-1) fell to the No. 12 Florida State Seminoles (3-0) 79-75 Friday afternoon in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
“I know our team, and I know that we are resilient, tough, and this loss is only going to make us this much better,” Florida head coach Kelly Rae Finley said.
The Seminoles took the lead early into the first half with the tip-off, but the Gators got on the board with a fast break layup from UF senior center Ra Shaya Kyle. The rivalry heat sparked as Florida State gained free throw points from Florida’s fouls.
UF freshman guard Laila Reynolds kept Florida in the game with a fast break layup to push the Gator’s score. Reynolds then made a three-point jumper to bring Florida within a five-point deficit.
A turnover from UF senior guard Aliyah Matharu allowed the Seminoles to regain possession, and in turn, FSU junior forward Mikayla Timpson scored a three-pointer. UF junior guard Alberte Rimdal responded with a drilled three-point jumper.
Despite the back-and-forth intense battle on the court, the Gators kept their momentum up in the game and worked their way into a two-point deficit to close out the first quarter, 23-21.
To come out with a quick start in the second quarter, UF junior guard Jeriah Warren made a layup for Florida. While the Seminoles continued to hold their lead, the Gators defensively fought hard to keep them from scoring points.
Kyle and Matharu blocked Seminole shots, allowing Florida to regain possession of the ball in an effort to make a comeback. A pass from Reynolds resulted in a Florida State steal, but an offensive turnover gave the Gators the ball back.
Layups from Rimdal and Matharu brought the game within a tight 35-31 range. In the final moments of the first half, Leilani Correa made a layup, and for the first time in the game, a three-point jumper from Matharu allowed Florida to have their first slim lead, 36-35.
Matharu scored the first shot of the opening frame to up Florida’s lead to 40-37. Offensively, the Gators found their groove as a team to the Seminoles from added points on the board. However, a personal foul on Matharu allowed Sara Bejedi to score free throw shots, which she made both to tie the game at 42 a piece.
Warren made a jumper, allowing Florida to regain its lead over the Seminoles, 45-42. Rimdal fired up a three-point jumper to push the Gators lead to 48-44. Turnovers from both teams fueled the intensity, but a defensive rebound from Rimdal resulted in an assist for a Correa layup.
Florida closed the third quarter with a 56-49 lead over the Seminoles.
An aggressive Seminole offense resulted in the substitution of Kyle after she fell to the ground, grabbing her ankle to gain possession of a Florida State ball. Correa drilled a three-pointer that had them on their feet.
Matharu layed a three-pointer from behind the arc to bring the Gator’s score to 66-61 with 4:55 left in the fourth quarter. Kyle reentered the game and made a jumper to add to Florida’s lead, 70-67.
A layup from FSU sophomore guard Ta’niya Latson on a fast break allowed Florida State to take the lead 72-70. With 15 seconds on the clock, the Seminoles reached a 77-74 lead, leading Florida head coach Kelly Rae Finley to take two timeouts.
A personal four from Reynolds gave the ball back to the Seminoles, and with six seconds left, two free throws were made from Latson. The Seminoles closed the game with a 79-75 win over the Gators.
42 percent field goal percentage over FSU’s 38 percentage
Florida has a total of seven blocks, six steals and 13 assists.
Leilani Correa and Ra Shaya Kyle both share the top leaders of 16 points scored.
UF will travel to Nassau, Bahamas, for the Baha Mar Pink Flamingo Championship, where Florida will play at 4 p.m. Monday against Purdue.