As Haley Lorenzen watched the ball rattle around the rim and into the basket to begin the third quarter, Florida’s bench exploded with roars and cheers.
The junior forward had been jockeying for position in the low post with defender Khaalia Hillsman before receiving a pass from a teammate and nailing a turnaround jump shot, setting off fireworks on the visitor’s sideline.
When the final buzzer sounded 20 minutes later, however, the Gators weren’t quite as joyful.
Playing at Reed Arena on Thursday night, UF fell to Texas A&M 84-76 to record its seventh loss in nine SEC games this season.
Freshman guard Delicia Washington led Florida (11-11, 2-7 SEC) with 25 points on 12-of-20 shooting from the field. The Glen St. Mary native also notched five rebounds and three assists in 30 minutes of action to serve as one of Gators’ only bright spots.
Meanwhile, coming off one of the best individual performances in program history, Ronni Williams underwhelmed with nine points — 34 less than she scored on Sunday against the Vanderbilt Commodores. The senior forward shot 33 percent from the floor and committed four personal fouls in the loss.
“She let frustration creep into her game a little bit today,” coach Amanda Butler said in a video posted to YouTube. “She was forcing a little bit, and again, A&M forces you to do that.”
The Aggies (16-6, 6-3 SEC) received a big performance from Hillsman, who recorded her 22nd double-figure scoring outing this year. The junior center tallied 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting while also pulling down 18 rebounds.
Senior forward Taylor Cooper and sophomore guard Danni Williams also finished with 16 points each, helping the Aggies secure their second victory over the Gators in 2017.
“A&M is really good,” Butler said. “They do a really good job of playing to their strengths and they don’t deviate from that… The did a better job of sticking to their plan tonight.”
Florida and Texas A&M were close in the opening 20 minutes of action.
The Gators shot 47.4 percent from the field, scoring 24 of their 39 first-half points in the paint.
Texas A&M, on the other hand, received their opportunities at the free-throw line, knocking down 15-of-17 attempts from the charity stripe to enter the intermission up by three.
The Aggies began to pull away halfway through the third quarter, however, when Hillsman led her team on a 9-0 run to take an 11-point lead.
From there, Texas A&M controlled the rest of the game, letting Florida get no closer than four points in the final 15 minutes of play.
“They put themselves into positions to succeed,” Butler said. “When you don’t guard them well or box them out, they’re going to make you pay.”
UF forward Ronni Williams prepares to shoot a free throw during Florida's 84-75 loss to Tennessee on Jan. 26, 2017, in the O'Connell Center.