Freshman forward Mikayla Hayes got the feed in the paint, dribbled once and spun over her left shoulder. She went up for the jump hook but was soundly rejected by Florida State’s Chatrice White, much to the delight of the FSU contingent behind the Seminoles’ bench.
It was that kind of night for the Florida offense en route to an 84-54 loss Friday night at the O’Connell Center. The inexperience and lack of depth showed just how much farther coach Cameron Newbauer has to push his Gators team.
Hayes’ blocked shot came in the middle of a scoreless streak that stretched nearly eight minutes between the second and third quarters. The Gators shot 0-for-12 until their next bucket came with 6:52 left in the third quarter.
Newbauer’s focuses coming into the game — limiting turnovers and asserting position on defensive rebounds — were satisfied for the most part. Florida committed just six turnovers. Compared to the 23 turnovers suffered against Arkansas State on Tuesday, Newbauer said his team can find a small victory in that alone.
“I’ll take six turnovers in any game, any day of any week,” Newbauer said.
Florida crashed down harder on defensive rebound opportunities against FSU as well, cutting down on its allowed offensive rebounds by nearly half. The Seminoles came up with 11 offensive rebounds after the Gators gave up 20 on Tuesday.
But other than the two areas of improvement, there was not much to celebrate for Newbauer and his squad. He said despite the lopsided score, he was proud of the way his team fought through the game.
“We tried some things, defensively, that worked in the first half,” Newbauer said. “And then we went kind of individualistic.”
Newbauer cited shots his team took early in the shot clock when he thought there were better passing opportunities.
Throughout the first quarter, the Gators kept clawing their way back to tie the game several times, but could not take the lead at any point past the opening UF bucket. The quarter ended with both teams tied at 18.
Florida scored eight points in the first 5:18 of the second quarter before its scoreless streak kicked in. Florida State ended the half riding a 20-8 run before pouring in 28 points in the third quarter behind quick passes that broke down the Florida defensive zone scheme.
“We touched the paint,” FSU coach Sue Semrau said. “We had penetration from our guards, but then we didn’t settle for anything and kicked it back out.”
The strategy paid dividends as FSU beat Newbauer at his own game, outpacing the Gators from beyond the arc. The Seminoles shot 39.3 percent from three-point range to the Gators’ 25 percent with both teams putting up 28 shots.
Florida will travel to Savannah, Georgia, after the weekend to participate in the Savannah Invitational and take on Richmond on Tuesday.
You can follow Morgan McMullen on Twitter @MorganMcMuffin, and contact him at [email protected].