As the final buzzer sounded and the Florida women’s basketball team began to jog off the court, Haley Lorenzen and Dyandria Anderson couldn’t contain their excitement any longer.
The two juniors, grinning from ear to ear, looked up into the stands and Gator chomped towards the Bulldog faithful before bouncing into the visitors locker room.
The drought was finally over.
Facing Georgia at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens on Sunday afternoon, UF ended its longest losing streak to begin conference play in over 10 years, defeating the Bulldogs 76-68 behind an all-around team effort.
Six Gators scored at least seven points for the first time since Dec. 28.
Senior forward Ronni Williams led UF with 16 points and seven rebounds after shooting 4-of-8 from the floor and 8-of-9 from the charity stripe.
Anderson and Lorenzen finished in double-figures as well, notching 13 and 11 points, respectively. Anderson’s four assists and Lorenzen’s 10 rebounds were also good for game-highs among all Florida players.
“It was a tremendous team effort,” coach Amanda Butler said in a video posted to ESPN.com. “It looked like a team that worked their tails off … and knew that they deserved this win today.”
The Gators (10-9, 1-5 SEC) took advantage of Georgia (10-9, 2-4 SEC) with their play in the interior. UF scored 38 points in the paint and was able to turn 17 offensive boards into 22 second-chance points.
Florida nabbed 12 steals and forced the Bulldogs into committing 18 turnovers, generating those miscues into 19 points.
Following the contest, Butler praised her team for its poise and determination, crediting resilience as the biggest key to Florida clinching its first conference victory since February 2016.
“We talked about the reason we were going to win today was because of toughness,” she said. “We had great composure, especially from our upperclassmen, and they showed who they are.”
After taking a 35-33 lead into halftime, the Gators exploded at the start of the third quarter, beginning the frame on an 18-3 run.
Multiple layups and mid-range shots from Anderson, Lorenzen and freshman guard Delicia Washington in the opening four minutes of the period gave UF a 10-point advantage.
Florida then continued its run with a rare display of shooting from the perimeter. The Gators made back-to-back three-point jumpers from freshman forward Sydney Morang at the 5:39 mark of the quarter and junior forward Brooke Copeland at the 5:06 mark. A free throw from Williams several minutes later then increased UF’s lead to 17.
However, the Bulldogs wouldn’t go down easily.
Georgia's defense quieted the Gators’ scoring attack in the fourth quarter, and redshirt senior guard Pachis Roberts scored 16 points in the final frame to bring UGA to within one point in the game's final 1:31.
But from there, Williams sealed the contest. The Daytona Beach native converted a layup and knocked down four free throws in the final minute of the game to keep Georgia just out of reach.
“There’s a little bit of relief,” Butler said on finally winning a conference game. “I’m so happy for our kids because they worked so hard."
Haley Lorenzen attempts a layup during Florida's 92-69 loss to Kentucky in the Southeastern Conference Tournament on March 4, 2016, at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.