As Amber Smith’s jumper from behind the three-point arc effortlessly snuck through the bottom of the net late in the fourth quarter, Amanda Butler couldn’t contain her frustration any longer.
The head coach in her 10th season at Florida angrily turned toward the crowd and simulated a swift kick, holding up just in time to avoid making contact with the scorer's table.
Despite strong stretches of play from the Gators on Thursday night, Missouri’s perimeter shooting was simply too much to overcome.
The Tigers converted on 13-of-28 attempts from downtown and made 19-of-20 shots from the free-throw line on the way to defeating UF 74-67 at the O’Connell Center.
Sophomore guard Sophie Cunningham led the way for Missouri with 28 points on 8-of-18 shooting. Senior guard Sierra Michaelis tallied 15 points as well, along with four rebounds and four assists.
For Florida (13-13, 4-9 SEC), Ronni Williams notched 17 points and seven rebounds to continue her solid senior campaign. Junior forward Haley Lorenzen and freshman guard Delicia Washington also scored 16 points each, and junior guard Dyandria Anderson recorded a non-scoring double-double with 11 rebounds and 11 assists.
Despite respectable individual performances, the Gators' defensive struggles on the perimeter ultimately plagued their opportunity at a victory, leading Butler to criticize her players after the contest.
“You just can’t exchange baskets with a team that shoots that well from the three,” she said. “You’ve got to give them credit. They made plays.”
The Gators actually opened Thursday night’s contest playing solid defense, holding Missouri (18-9, 8-5 SEC) to 11 points on 3-of-14 shooting through the first 10 minutes of action.
Multiple perimeter jumpers from Washington in the second quarter then helped Florida continue to maintain its lead until the final 2:44 of the half.
From there, however, baskets from Cunningham, redshirt senior guard Lianna Doty and Michaelis propelled the Tigers on a 13-0 run to enter the intermission up 35-26.
“I think we let them get into an offensive groove,” Butler said. “They just took advantage.”
Although momentum appeared to be shifted in Missouri’s direction at halftime, UF exploded offensively when play resumed, scoring 29 third-quarter points.
Lorenzen shot 4-of-5 from the floor to lead the Gators on a stretch of nine consecutive made field goals as well as a 15-0 run halfway through the period.
However, the final 10 minutes of play weren't as kind to Florida.
The Tigers outscored UF 21-12 in the closing frame, shooting 4-of-7 from the three-point line to close out the victory up seven points.
After the contest, Lorenzen, who went down with a lower body injury near the end of third quarter, confirmed that she was all right and would be available for Florida's matchup with Kentucky on Sunday.
“I went down pretty hard, but my teammates were right there to pick me back up,” she said. “I’ll be good to go (this weekend).”
UF forward Ronni Williams dribbles during Florida's 74-67 loss to Missouri on Feb. 16, 2017, in the O'Connell Center.