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Sunday, January 23, 2022

Freshman returns to team, sparks UF victory with all-around play

For freshman Sydney Moss, the past week involved grieving and thousands of miles of plane rides. 

She finally had a reason to smile on Tuesday night. 

After missing Monday’s practice to be with family following the death of her grandfather, Moss returned to help lead Florida (6-3) past Troy (1-6) 87-62 on Tuesday in the O’Connell Center. 

“I’m just happy to be back with my team,” Moss said.

Moss finished with 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting. She also pulled down four rebounds and notched five assists in a do-it-all effort. 

“Sydney is just a playmaker,” coach Amanda Butler said. “All of us — coaches and teammates included — have come to expect that something good is going to happen when she is on the floor.”

Following a grind-it-out loss to Michigan on Saturday, Butler knew her team should expect an up-tempo contest against Troy, which averaged 81.3 points per game before Tuesday. 

Florida featured a balanced offensive output. Five Gators scored in double figures.

Moss and redshirt freshman Carlie Needles each notched 18 points. 

“We’ve got a lot of different people who can be threatening,” Butler said. “Offensively, we did a really good job of playing well together, but everyone individually took their shots at the right time.”

Despite the balanced contributions, Florida could not pull away prior to halftime, a trend that cost UF in the loss to Michigan. 

Troy’s Aarika Howard connected on a jumper with 16:31 remaining in the second half to cut Florida’s lead to 48-41 and put the Trojans back in the game.

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Florida responded with a 16-2 run during the next six minutes to open a 64-43 lead. 

 “We buckled down and got a couple stops and hit some shots along the stretch,” Needles said. “Our defense really ignites our fire.” 

Moss, who admitted the recent travel drained her, capped the run with a layup.

Though she was not fully ready to play, Butler said the team was glad to have her back.

“It’s a great luxury to have a player like Sydney,” Butler said. “If you get the ball in her hands, she is really capable of doing anything on the court.”

 

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