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Tuesday, January 25, 2022
<p>After enduring its first losing season under head coach Amanda Butler, the Gators are now playing one of the best seasons in program history. The Gators finished their non-conference schedule 12-1, highlighted by an upset victory over then-No. 6 Florida State in their home opener. Ethan Bauer has the breakdown for you (<span id="docs-internal-guid-905e0b25-fa0e-064b-cbf1-b3a4ac40933b"><span><a href="http://www.alligator.org/sports/basketball_-_women/article_1912e32e-a1f3-11e5-a1bc-130df0cb9bf1.html">http://www.alligator.org/sports/basketball_-_women/article_1912e32e-a1f3-11e5-a1bc-130df0cb9bf1.html</a>)</span></span></p>

After enduring its first losing season under head coach Amanda Butler, the Gators are now playing one of the best seasons in program history. The Gators finished their non-conference schedule 12-1, highlighted by an upset victory over then-No. 6 Florida State in their home opener. Ethan Bauer has the breakdown for you (http://www.alligator.org/sports/basketball_-_women/article_1912e32e-a1f3-11e5-a1bc-130df0cb9bf1.html)

When a team falls on tough times, sometimes all it takes to get things back on track is a signature win.

That’s exactly what the Gators got on Monday night in the O’Connell Center when they took down No. 6 Florida State in UF’s home opener, 82-72.

"We beat a very, very good team," coach Amanda Butler said after the game.

"For Florida State to be number (six) in the country, and to have so many different people step up and just give us whatever we needed, I’m just really, really proud of the overall team effort."

UF’s play was up and down throughout the match as the Gators struggled to find a consistent rhythm early in the game.

Florida looked good at the get-go — sort of — as it won the opening tip and proceeded to take it down the court and score on a bucket from junior forward Ronni Williams.

Williams lead the Gators with 21 points and two blocks, one of which came at a pivotal moment in the game.

The rest of the first quarter, however was all FSU. Florida had some chances but couldn’t capitalize, shooting only 4-of-15 from the field in the opening period. At the end of one, the Seminoles had doubled Florida’s score and led 18-9.

The second quarter wasn’t all-Florida by any means, but the Gators did manage to seize the momentum for a good chunk of it.

FSU came out firing with two buckets right away as play resumed, forcing UF coach Amanda Butler to call a timeout. What she said to her team was inaudible, but whatever it was, it worked.

Florida proceeded to go on a 14-4 run and made it a one-possession game at 23-26.

That was thanks in large part to junior transfer Simone Westbrook, who hit two long-range threes in the clutch.

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However, FSU got right back in it after that and built back what they had lost.

At the half, Florida trailed by nine once again, this time at 38-29.

After losing the first half by a single-digit margin, Florida flat-out dominated the second half.

Butler credits her team’s resilience for the way it performed in the second half as opposed to any kind of halftime speech.

"They wanted it for each other," she said.

"In the first half, we were being way too reactive and I think them as a group, regardless of the things that us coaches were sharing with them, just really wanted to play with a lot more pride in the things that we had worked on leading up to this."

UF started things off by going on an 8-0 run. Led by the play of Williams, Florida trimmed the deficit to six and headed to the fourth quarter down 57-51.

The beginning of the fourth was all UF again, and the Gators took the lead at 60-59 with just over eight minutes to go.

They didn’t look back as they outscored the Seminoles 31-15 in the fourth quarter and pulled off what could be considered Butler’s biggest win as head coach at Florida.

In addition to Williams and her 21 points, Westbrook and freshman Eleanna Christinaki also reached double figures with 14 and 13 points, respectively.

The play of those three down the stretch cannot be overstated enough, and the points don’t even tell the whole story.

A big piece of that story is the resilience shown by the three of them — and by the team in general — both against FSU and even in the loss on Friday at Temple. It’s something that they didn’t have last year and it’s something that they’re looking to build on this year.

"That’s one of the things that we really took away from Temple is the type of fighters that we are," Butler said.

"I think they took a lot of that energy from that fourth quarter performance (at Temple) into tonight."

Florida will have a few days to recover from the monumental victory, as the next time it gets to test its resilience will be on Saturday at 4 p.m. against Kennesaw State in the O’Connell Center.

 Follow Ethan Bauer on Twitter @ebaueri

The UF women's basketball team celebrates after defeating No. 6 Florida State 82-72 on Nov. 16, 2015, in the O'Connell Center.

After enduring its first losing season under head coach Amanda Butler, the Gators are now playing one of the best seasons in program history. The Gators finished their non-conference schedule 12-1, highlighted by an upset victory over then-No. 6 Florida State in their home opener. Ethan Bauer has the breakdown for you (http://www.alligator.org/sports/basketball_-_women/article_1912e32e-a1f3-11e5-a1bc-130df0cb9bf1.html)

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