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<p>Haley Lorenzen blocks a shot during Florida's win against Southeastern Louisiana on Dec. 28, 2016 in the Exactech Arena. </p>

Haley Lorenzen blocks a shot during Florida's win against Southeastern Louisiana on Dec. 28, 2016 in the Exactech Arena. 

Standing at center court in front of a crowd of 1,619 at the newly renovated Exactech Arena, Ronni Williams smiled.

The senior forward was being awarded a commemorative game ball in honor of her 1,000th career point scored on Dec. 3 during the pregame of Wednesday’s home-opener against Southeastern Louisiana, and she couldn’t have been happier.

“That was a huge honor,” Williams said. “I mean, I thank God for it. It was a great accomplishment.”

Her follow-up performance was just as impressive, however, as the Daytona Beach native scored a career-high 34 points and pulled down 12 rebounds to lead the Gators (9-4) to a 102-51 beatdown over the Lions (2-9) to conclude nonconference play.

Williams dominated on both sides of the ball, shooting an efficient 14-for-16 from the floor and 6-for-7 from the free-throw line while also recording two blocks and two steals.

Junior forward Haley Lorenzen also netted 15 points and grabbed 10 boards for the first double-double of her career, and freshman guard Delicia Washington tallied 14 points and six steals.

“I think we’re a great team, and look exactly the way we want to look,” head coach Amanda Butler said. “A lot of positives (from tonight).”

UF asserted itself early against Southeastern Louisiana and quickly put the contest out of reach. Williams did most of her damage in the first quarter, scoring 20 points on 9-for-10 shooting while the Gators' defense generated 13 SLU turnovers to spark a 36-10 lead at the end of the period.

It was more of the same for Florida in the final three frames, during which it outscored its opponent by eight in the second quarter, three in the third quarter, and fourteen in the fourth quarter to conclude the landslide at a 51-point differential.

The team shot 56 percent from the floor, outrebounded the Lions by 18 and managed to stay out of foul trouble with none of its eight players committing more than three personals.

The Gators also went to the charity stripe a whopping 43 times and connected on 30 of their attempts. They entered Wednesday ranked dead last in the Southeastern Conference in total free throws and 13th in free throw shooting percentage, causing Butler to be optimistic about her group’s performance against SLU.

“This team, as individuals, put in work every single day with their free throws,” she said. “It’s very rewarding to see all the work that they’re putting in come to fruition.”

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Florida’s home victory against the Lions follows the conclusion of a 12-game road trip to begin its regular season while $64.5 million in renovations were completed at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. UF traveled 8,799 miles via 13 bus trips, seven airplane flights and 11 different hotels over a 48-day span away from Gainesville, and its players are happy to finally be back and competing in the new arena.

“It’s exciting to see,” Lorenzen said. “It’s hard not to walk in here and not smile.”

Next up for the Gators, they face Auburn on Jan. 1 at the Exactech Arena at 2 p.m in their first SEC contest of 2016-17. Florida went 10-6 in conference play last season and is excited to begin league competition once again.

“It’s going to be a great SEC battle,” Butler said. “It’s going to be two really really talented women’s basketball programs.”

Contact Dylan Dixon at or follow him on Twitter @dylanrdixon

Haley Lorenzen blocks a shot during Florida's win against Southeastern Louisiana on Dec. 28, 2016 in the Exactech Arena. 

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