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Sunday, November 28, 2021
<p>Haley Lorenzen battles for position in the paint during Florida's 99-34 win against Savannah State on Nov. 24, 2015, in the O'Connell Center.</p>

Haley Lorenzen battles for position in the paint during Florida's 99-34 win against Savannah State on Nov. 24, 2015, in the O'Connell Center.

It wasn’t easy, but as it often has this season, the Florida women’s basketball team found a way to win.

Trailing by as many as 11 points late in the third quarter and with their star player forced to sit out because of foul trouble, the Gators (7-1) relied on their depth and came out of the O’Connell Center with a 76-72 victory on Monday night against Arkansas State (4-2).

Sophomore Haley Lorenzen led the Gators with 19 points on 7-of-8 shooting, the second highest total of her career.

The game also marked Florida coach Amanda Butler's 200th career victory.

"I’m just happy we won to be honest with you," Butler said. "I didn’t even know that was the case until after the ball game."

The game was evenly matched in the first half, as teams went into the locker room with the score tied at 33.

Arkansas State senior forward Khadija Brown-Haywood paced the Red wolves with 15 points, five rebounds and three steals in the first half.

The next-closest first half scorer was redshirt senior guard Aundrea Gamble with six.

Leading up to the game, Butler said that Gamble was a "future pro," so the Gators clearly prepared for her.

Fortunately for the Red Wolves, Brown-Haywood was there to make up for that.

"We talked about what a scorer (Brown-Haywood) was, we did. She just really came to play, and you’ve just got to tip your hat to her," Butler said.

"We fully expected (Brown-Haywood) to play like a scorer — we just didn’t do a very good job of adjusting when she seemed to be hitting everything that she shot."

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For UF, junior Ronni Williams, the team's leading scorer, was bottled up.

Because of foul trouble —Williams had three in the first half — she only played 14 total minutes and was held scoreless in a half for the first time this season.

Butler, however, was comfortable with relying on the team’s depth.

"We’ve got a lot of confidence in whoever that next person is who’s ready to step in there," she said.

Near the end of the first half, ASU took its first lead of the game.

"Hey, calm down," redshirt senior guard Carlie Needles told her teammates following the lead change. And they did, at least for the time being.

In the second half, Williams seemed to be bringing Florida back from an 11-point deficit it had dug itself into early in the third quarter.

But, with three minutes and change left to go in the quarter, she picked up her fourth foul and was once again forced to exit the game.

The Gators were faced with the task of mounting a comeback without the season’s leading scorer, but thanks to their depth, they were able to do just that.

Senior guard Cassie Peoples tied and subsequently put Florida on top at 53-52 with 00:42 left in the third quarter.

The game came down to the wire, with Florida clinging to a small lead at the end of the fourth quarter and both teams continuing to play evenly matched basketball.

Ultimately, it was freshman Eleanna Christinaki who put the game on ice with a pair of free throws that led to the final score of 76-72.

Butler was relieved that her team was able to pull through in the clutch, just like she would be in any other win.

"I think that just shows a lot of toughness, a lot of heart and like I said, just a great win," she said.

"Arkansas State is very, very good. I’m glad it’s over."

 Follow Ethan Bauer on Twitter @ebaueri

Haley Lorenzen battles for position in the paint during Florida's 99-34 win against Savannah State on Nov. 24, 2015, in the O'Connell Center.

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