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Saturday, December 02, 2023

It may not have counted in the record books, but the UF women?s basketball team did everything it could to put memories of last year as far behind as possible.

The Gators wiped out NAIA Division-II Warner Southern Thursday night, defeating the Royals 106-28.

BObviously we?re very pleased with the outcome,C UF coach Amanda Butler said. BI thought we played really hard and whenever you can spread the ball around and get everybody an opportunity to play and … you feel like you get better by the end of the game, it?s a great opportunity.C

Junior transfer Aneika Henry led the way for the Gators with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

BI think you got a glimpse of what Aneika?s impact is going to be,C Butler said. BObviously with that size, the catches she makes, and the plays that she finishes, and the rebounds she grabs, a lot of other people just can?t do those things.C

Junior guard Sha Brooks, who contributed 14 points, loves the post presence the 6-foot-3 center brings.

BWe?ve got someone who?s almost 7 feet tall, so you can just lob it up there and she?ll catch it,C Brooks said.

An injury bug that?s already knocked out two Gators almost got worse when Brooks dove for a loose ball but got up slowly, limping to the bench.

The junior did not return during the final 7:48 of the first half, but started the second half and didn?t seem to favor the leg.

BI?m good, I?m good,C she said. BI?m a soldier.C

Butler didn?t worry too much when she saw Brooks on the ground.

BYou hold your breath a little bit because we?re a little thinner than we would like to be,C Butler said. BBut we?re not going to compromise how hard we play because we?re scared we?re going to get injured.C

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However, the injury bug did hit sophomore forward Sharielle Smith, who is out four to six weeks after an MRI Tuesday night found a stress fracture in her right foot.

It was only appropriate that this game would start with the Gators scoring before any time ran off the clock.

Warner Southern was charged with a technical foul for not turning in its lineup on time. Brooks stepped to the free-throw line and made both shots to give the Gators a 2-0 lead.

UF would open the lead to 12-0 before Warner Southern guard Ivana Soberal finally scored with 16:55 left in the first half.

UF ran up a 57-16 lead by halftime on 64.7 percent shooting from the floor. The Gators totaled 57 points or fewer in five regular season games last season.

One thing Butler did stress at halftime was rebounding, as they led the Royals only 21-19 at the break.

The team responded, out-rebounding Warner Southern 39-15 in the second half for a 60-34 final margin.

BWhen you go in the locker room and issue a challenge and your team responds like that, then you certainly have to be pleased,C Butler said.

She slowed down the pace in the second half, dropping the team back into a two-three zone.

BWe could?ve continued to run, but we didn?t feel that was the classy thing to do,C Butler said. BFor us, we weren?t getting better shooting layups. So we felt it was an opportunity to work on our half-court execution and even specific options out of our half-court execution.C

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