With the final seconds winding down and the game well in hand, Florida guard Tameria Johnson ran down a Delaware State fast break attempt and poked the ball away. As she took it across half court, coach Cameron Newbauer signaled his offense to run one more play. But Johnson, looking over to her bench, lost the handle and was called for a backcourt violation. The freshman laughed it off, shook her head and jogged back for the final defensive possession of the afternoon.
The result was never in doubt as the Gators handily beat the Hornets 85-51 on Wednesday at the O’Connell Center.
While Johnson cost her team its 21st turnover of the contest, it didn’t matter in the long run. Newbauer said the high turnover rate could have been due to a “Christmas hangover,” but that his team ultimately got the job done.
“We’ve just gotta be a little smarter, a little sharper with the ball and our decision-making,” Newbauer said.
The Gators (8-5) jumped out to an early 22-10 lead after the first quarter and never trailed at any point in the game.
Forward Haley Lorenzen commanded the spotlight from the opening whistle, scoring on an open layup 10 seconds into the game. The senior from Iowa City, Iowa, recorded her seventh double-double on the season with 18 points and 12 rebounds. With 4:14 remaining in the second quarter, Lorenzen also netted her 1,000th career point.
“She’s a Florida Gator through and through,” Newbauer said. “That’s a great accomplishment for her, and to be able to do it at home in front of this great crowd today is fantastic.”
The good news for Florida didn’t stop with Lorenzen’s milestone. Sophomore guard Sydney Searcy returned to action against Hornets (1-10) after missing Florida’s previous two games with a concussion. Searcy, a key player off the bench for UF who also filled in for starting guard Funda Nakkasoglu earlier this season while she was out with an ankle injury, marked her comeback with 11 points, shooting 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. She also brought down four rebounds. After connecting on just three three-pointers all last season, Searcy is 18-for-41 (44 percent) from behind the arc this year.
Newbauer said having the added depth will help UF’s rotation, especially with SEC play kicking off against Auburn on Dec. 31 at 4 p.m.
“After being out for a couple weeks with those concussions, it’s been a good job for (Searcy) to keep those eyes on the rim and knock down some open shots for us,” Newbauer said. “Just to get her legs back under her in a game before SEC play is great.”