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Friday, September 30, 2022

UF women's basketball drops SEC opener to Auburn

<p>Florida's Ronni Williams shoots the ball during UF's 92-69 loss to Kentucky in the SEC Tournament on March 4, 2016, in the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.&nbsp;</p>

Florida's Ronni Williams shoots the ball during UF's 92-69 loss to Kentucky in the SEC Tournament on March 4, 2016, in the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. 

Ronni Williams apologized to her teammates at halftime.

Coming off the best game of her career, the senior forward only scored six points and turned the ball over six times through the first two quarters of Sunday’s contest against Auburn.

She promised her teammates she would produce in the second half and ultimately came through on that promise, but it simply wasn’t enough as the Gators (9-5, 0-1 SEC) fell to the Tigers 82-75 in their first Southeastern Conference game this season.

Williams once again put on a show for Florida fans at the newly renovated Exactech Arena after her 34-point performance against Southeastern Louisiana on Wednesday set a new collegiate high. The Daytona Beach native shot 8-for-10 from the field in the final two periods against AU to finish with 24 points while also pulling down seven rebounds.

Freshman guard Delicia Washington and senior center Tyshara Fleming also shot over 50 percent from the floor and finished with double-figure scoring. However, turnovers and three-point shooting made the difference in the game.

Behind a suffocating full-court press, Auburn forced the Gators to commit a whopping 26 turnovers and converted those miscues into 28 points. Williams, Washington and junior guard Dyandria Anderson all committed at least five turnovers, struggling to protect the ball against a swarming Tigers defense.

“We just didn’t value the basketball,” head coach Amanda Butler said. “You have to give Auburn a lot of credit for the way that they played. That is their style and they bank on that.”

AU also shot the lights out from the perimeter, knocking down 52 percent of its three-point attempts. The Tigers were led by senior guards Brandy Montgomery and Katie Frerking, who combined to shoot 10-for-17 from behind the arc.

Montgomery alone went 7-for-8 from deep, and received praise from Butler following the performance.

“Brandy (Montgomery) is one of the best shooters in this league, you have to give her a lot of credit for knocking down her shots,” she said. “We have this unfortunate trend of not doing a great job of marking shooters and making them put it on the floor. It is something we have to continue to search for ways to be better at.”

Moving forward, UF knows it’ll have to handle the ball better if it wants to be successful in the Southeastern Conference this season. The team entered Sunday averaging 19.4 turnovers per game, the highest rate among all SEC schools.

While Williams was discouraged with her team’s 26 miscues against Auburn, she’s optimistic that improvements are soon to come.

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“We’re disappointed, but we’re not discouraged,” the forward said.

Next up for both teams, Florida will face the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge on Thursday at 8 p.m. while Auburn (11-4, 1-0 SEC) will host the South Carolina Gamecocks on Thursday at 7 p.m.

Contact Dylan Dixon at ddixon@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @dylanrdixon.

Florida's Ronni Williams shoots the ball during UF's 92-69 loss to Kentucky in the SEC Tournament on March 4, 2016, in the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. 

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