After traveling a whopping 8,289 miles over the past six weeks, the Florida women’s basketball team has finally completed its 12-game road trip to open the 2016-17 regular season.
But the final leg of that stretch took a Herculean effort from one player: Ronni Williams.
The unranked Gators (8-4) defeated the struggling Florida A&M Rattlers 78-65 on Wednesday night behind a stellar offensive performance from the senior forward.
Williams, a Daytona Beach native, scored 25 points on 10-for-16 shooting on day two of the Florida Sunshine Classic in Winter Park, Florida. The outing marks her fourth 20-point performance this year and the 60th double-digit scoring game of her career.
“My teammates and I came out ready to play,” Williams said in a release. “They did a great job finding me. I did a great job finding them. We just played together as a team.”
Aside from Williams, UF also received notable contributions from junior forward Haley Lorenzen, senior center Tyshara Fleming and junior guard Dyandria Anderson.
Lorenzen notched 16 points, seven rebounds and a career high five steals, Fleming scored a season-best 15 points and Anderson tied her career high of 13 points to sum up an all-around team effort from Florida.
“We executed really well,” head coach Amanda Butler said in a release. “We got the shots we wanted to and for the most part we knocked them down.”
The Gators struggled to take control of the contest early on, however, finding themselves down 23-22 with 5:05 remaining in the second quarter. However, a 19-7 run led by several field goals from Williams shifted the momentum in favor of UF at the conclusion of the first half.
After an evenly matched third quarter saw UF head into the final 10 minutes only up by nine, Williams, Lorenzen and Fleming once again sparked an 11-0 run, this time to pull away from Florida A&M (1-10) for good.
“(Williams, Lorenzen and Fleming) led us tonight statistically, with their energy, with their aggressiveness,” Butler said. “It’s exactly what you want to see from your upper classmen.”
Despite solid scoring performances from multiple players, three-point shooting and turnovers continue to be a problem for Florida.
The Gators shot a dismal 24 percent from behind the arc on 17 attempts and committed a season high 29 turnovers against the Rattlers. UF entered Wednesday night ranked 12th in the Southeastern Conference in three-point shooting percentage and dead last in total turnovers.
“We knew they were going to try to turn us over, and we didn’t handle that very well,” Butler said. “So two areas that will give us a lot of opportunities to look at some film and grow.”
Florida will take a short break to celebrate the holidays before playing its first home games in the newly renovated Exactech Arena at the O’Connell Center. It will face Southeastern Louisiana on Dec. 28 at 7 p.m. before kicking off conference play against Auburn on Jan. 1 at 2 p.m.
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.