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Tuesday, September 27, 2022
<p>UF forward Ronni Williams dribbles during Florida's 74-67 loss to Missouri on Feb. 16, 2017, in the O'Connell Center.</p>

UF forward Ronni Williams dribbles during Florida's 74-67 loss to Missouri on Feb. 16, 2017, in the O'Connell Center.

Ronni Williams gave the Gators everything she had on Thursday night.

The senior forward from Daytona Beach, Florida, has been the soul of UF women’s basketball all season, leading the team in scoring and rebounding as well as serving as its emotional and outspoken leader.

When Florida took the floor against Tennessee, Williams scored a game-high 22 points on 10-of-19 shooting from the field.

But her greatness wasn’t enough to propel her program to victory.

Playing in front of a crowd of 9,968, the Volunteers defeated UF 74-70 on Thursday night after closing the game on a 13-2 run.

Redshirt junior center Mercedes Russell notched a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds to go along with two assists for UT, while redshirt junior guard Diamond DeShields was one assist shy of a triple-double with 15 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

For Florida, Williams’ 22 points marked her 23rd double-figure scoring game this season. Freshman guard Delicia Washington contributed as well, totaling 15 points, six rebounds and four assists.

“I felt pretty good the entire game,” Williams said. “I knew that if we stuck to the right things, right things would happen for us.”

Despite individual performances, poor execution as a whole from the Gators (13-15, 4-11 SEC) down the stretch plagued their chances at securing a win.

After an evenly played opening three quarters that saw Tennessee (18-10, 9-6 SEC) lead 56-54, Florida opened the final 10 minutes of action on an 11-2 run.

Multiple layups from Williams and Washington as well as a three-point basket from junior guard Dyandria Anderson gave UF a seven-point lead with 4:31 remaining in the game, shifting the momentum completely in the Gators’ favor.

One minute later, another three-point jumper from junior forward Haley Lorenzen appeared to be a dagger in the hearts of the Volunteer faithful, silencing the crowd at Thompson-Boling Arena and forcing UT coach Holly Warlick to call a timeout. Not much went right for Florida after that.

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A series of frantic offensive possessions leading to buckets from Alexa Middleton, DeShields and redshirt forward Shaquilla Nunn brought Tennessee all the way back to a one-point lead with 36 seconds left in the game.

UF, on the other hand, missed eight of its final nine shots and struggled to combat UT’s frenetic final run.

After a three-point attempt from Washington failed to tie the contest at 71, Nunn and junior guard Jaime Nared combined to knock down three free throws in the final 10 seconds, securing the victory and giving the Gators their 11th conference loss in 2017.

“We got beat by a very good team tonight,” coach Amanda Butler said. “You have to congratulate Tennessee for the things they did well in critical moments.”

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

UF forward Ronni Williams dribbles during Florida's 74-67 loss to Missouri on Feb. 16, 2017, in the O'Connell Center.

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