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<p>UF forward Ronni Williams goes for a layup during Florida's 53-45 win against LSU on Jan. 17, 2016, in the O'Connell Center.</p>

UF forward Ronni Williams goes for a layup during Florida's 53-45 win against LSU on Jan. 17, 2016, in the O'Connell Center.

JACKSONVILLE — Delicia Washington knew what she needed to do.

As South Alabama hustled up the court, looking to set up its offense, the true freshman guard found herself one-on-one, defending the point.

Swiping the ball away, Washington burst up the court, threading a bounce pass through the key to Tyshara Fleming for an easy bucket in transition.

The bench erupted. The Gators immediately switched to their full-court press defense.

And all this while up by 22 points.

On a night where everything seemingly went right, the No. 20-ranked Gators (1-0) never dropped their energy level, willing their way to an 85-33 demolition of the South Alabama Jaguars at Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville Friday night.

The Gators wanted to set the tone early, looking to avoid a repeat of last season’s tilt against the Jaguars that saw them trail by one at the half.

And despite squaring off against the same team — all five of South Alabama’s 2015-16 starters returned — Florida easily flipped last year’s script.

“I think that maybe even we caught South Alabama a little bit by surprise, that we were keeping our foot on the gas that much and that our defensive intensity was as high as it was,” head coach Amanda Butler said.

UF roared out to a 19-4 lead by the end of the first quarter, ending the frame on a 17-2 run that was spurred by senior Ronni Williams’ perfect 4-for-4 mark from the field. Florida dominated below the basket — the Gators outscored the Jaguars 56-4 in the paint on the game.

“We love layups,” Williams said. “That’s something we take pride in.”

Even with the early lead, Florida continued its scoring streak, breaking out with an 8-0 run to open the second quarter.

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And, despite the advantage, the Gators continued to relentlessly pressure the Jaguars on defense.

UF regularly double-teamed South Alabama’s point guards, resulting in 20 steals and 36 points off turnovers. The Jaguars’ bench grew frustrated as the Gators continually fought hard for 50/50 balls.

When halftime finally rolled around, Florida had already pieced together a complete performance, comfortably winning by a score of 37-15 and leading in both rebounds (24-19) and steals (12-7).

The Gators burst into the second half anyway.

Haley Lorenzen drained three straight baskets, contributing eight points to a quarter-opening 20-point run and notching her 500th career point in the process. By the end of the frame, each Gator had scored at least once, resulting in an eventual team shooting efficiency of 53.5 percent.

“We got a lot of easy offense from our defense, but I thought we did a phenomenal job of executing in the half-court as well,” Butler said.

“It wasn’t all just aggressiveness and athleticism.”

The fourth quarter brought more of the same for Florida — efficient offense, smothering defense and a +15 point differential over its opposition.

It also brought one of the game’s most telling moments.

With UF up by 38, South Alabama’s Genesis Perrymond coughed up possession at half court. Tracking down the loose ball, Washington — the first true freshman to start for the Gators since 2012-13 — sprinted over, diving headlong after it and colliding with a South Alabama player in the process.

The whistle blew. Wincing in pain, she walked over to the bench, her night ended by an apparent hand injury.

The referee awarded the ball to the Gators.

“If the ball is on the floor, we’re gonna be on the floor (first),” Butler said. “This is how we want to play. This is a big part of our identity.

“She’s tough. That’s why she’s a Gator.”

Contact Alejandro Lopez at alopez@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @ajlb95.

UF forward Ronni Williams goes for a layup during Florida's 53-45 win against LSU on Jan. 17, 2016, in the O'Connell Center.

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