For the first time this season, Haley Lorenzen was not in the starting lineup for Florida when it tipped off against the Kentucky Wildcats.
She wasn’t even in uniform.
Instead, the 6-foot-3 junior forward from Iowa City, Iowa, donned a black T-shirt, orange sweatpants and an oversized walking boot on her right foot as she sat on the sidelines of Memorial Coliseum and watched her teammates lose by 19 points on Sunday.
Lorenzen, who suffered a sprained ankle earlier in the week against Missouri, didn’t play in a game for the second time in her collegiate career.
In her absence, the Gators (13-14, 4-10 SEC) struggled mightily on the glass, allowing Kentucky to convert 13 offensive boards into 25 second-chance points.
UF is normally one of the better interior teams in the SEC, averaging 41 rebounds per game. However, with Lorenzen unavailable to play against the Wildcats this weekend, coach Amanda Butler noticed a significant difference in her team’s ability to control the front court.
“It was really disappointing when she went down,” Butler said. “It impacted our defensive presence, and it certainly impacted our rebounding.”
Lorenzen has been one of Florida’s most consistent players this season, ranking first on the team in blocked shots, second in points per game and minutes per game and third in field-goal percentage and rebounds.
The junior also possesses the ability to spread the floor, knocking down 39.1 percent of her three-point jumpers.
But the Gators may have to continue to play without their dependable upperclassman for upcoming contests against Tennessee and Georgia, as Butler listed Lorenzen as “day-to-day” on Monday and said she was unsure of her player’s status over the next week.
“We have (Monday) off to recollect, to gather ourselves, get needed rest and rehab and hopefully get Haley back on the court for us,” Butler said. “But ankle sprains are tough.”
In Lorenzen’s place, UF will look to get more out of senior center Tyshara Fleming, who started on Sunday for the first time since Jan. 12 and totaled 10 points and eight rebounds in 22 minutes of action before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
Fleming leads Florida in field-goal percentage and rebounds per game in SEC play this season and has scored in double figures 10 times, earning the confidence of her coach to be a reliable option with Lorenzen potentially unavailable.
“She is a really, really important member of what we’re doing for a lot of different reasons,” Butler said of Fleming. “She’s good enough to be in that starting five for us.”
UF forward Haley Lorenzen attempts a jump shot during Florida's 57-53 win against Arkansas on Feb. 9, 2017, in the O'Connell Center.