There’s a line from the Pixar film “The Incredibles” that, despite its insulting intention in the movie, accurately sums up this season’s Gator women’s basketball team.
“A company is like an enormous clock,” Mr. Incredible’s boss says to him near the beginning of the flick.
“It only works if all the little cogs mesh together.”
Not to compare UF’s players to “cogs” in some sort of company machine, but ask any of the team’s players and they’ll tell you that working together is exactly what’s gotten them wins so far this season.
That was certainly the sentiment following the Gators’ 79-72 win over North Carolina State in the final game of the 2015 Gator Holiday Classic on Monday afternoon.
“It’s all about teamwork,” freshman guard Eleanna Christinaki said after the game. Christinaki was named to the all-tournament team while teammate Cassie Peoples was named tournament MVP.
That mental makeup led led to a 122-point offensive explosion. But on Monday, UF (11-1) found itself playing a different kind of game against NC State (9-4).
There would be no such offensive fireworks, and the team would instead have to rely on stout defense.
In the early going, it was tough sledding for both teams when it came to scoring. The same Florida team that put up 122 just one day earlier managed to register only a quarter of that in the first half, scoring 31 to NC State’s 29 at the break.
In the third quarter, though, Florida came out looking like a new team.
Led by Peoples, UF started the new half on a 16-2 run, with nine of those point coming from Peoples herself.
“I think for us, at the beginning of the third, our defense sparked us. From there, everything just went well for us,” Peoples said.
Coach Amanda Butler echoed that sentiment.
“I think they just played with a much different energy in the third quarter, especially on the defensive end with defensive determination. That made all the difference.”
The team looked different once again in the fourth quarter. This time, though, it wasn’t for a positive reason.
The Wolfpack outscored the Gators 32-23 in the final period while also out-rebounding them 13-6.
“The fourth quarter wasn’t quite how we scripted it,” Butler said. “At the same time, to be able to hold on down the stretch and still preserve the lead and make some plays on defense and do some of the things that put us ahead initially, I think was really important.”
As Butler said, despite the statistical disparity, the Gators were able to hold on and get the win. They’ve done that a lot so far this season, as their 11-1 record would suggest. But with only a contest against UCF separating them from conference play, the real tests are about to begin.
Butler, while noting that her team definitely has work to do, also said that playing in (and winning) two tournaments already this year can the Gators down the stretch.
“I think anytime that you can beat two teams in a two-day span with very little preparation, that’s something that really reinforces what you’re doing and who you are,” she said.
“I think that’s the biggest confidence builder for our team is that without a practice, we can go out and beat Colorado at Colorado and then beat a quality opponent in NC State by having just predominantly mental preparation.”
Follow Ethan Bauer on Twitter @ebaueri
Amanda Butler calls out a play during Florida's 64-56 loss to No. 6 Tennessee on Feb. 8 in the O'Connell Center.