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Tuesday, September 27, 2022
<p>UF forward Ronni Williams attempts a layup during Florida's 84-75 loss to Ole Miss on Feb. 6, 2017, in the O'Connell Center.&nbsp;</p>

UF forward Ronni Williams attempts a layup during Florida's 84-75 loss to Ole Miss on Feb. 6, 2017, in the O'Connell Center. 

Cruising down the floor of Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina, Ronni Williams charged towards the basket with the ball in her hands before coming to a screeching halt at the free-throw line.

In one fluid motion, the senior forward from Daytona Beach pulled up from 15 feet away with her defender off balance, nailing the mid-range jumper with ease.

It’s a signature move Williams has perfected over her career at UF, making opponents pay time and time again.

But that doesn’t matter anymore. Because following UF’s loss to Texas A&M in the second round of the SEC Tournament, Williams’ playing days in a Gators uniform were over.

“I’ve been blessed for the opportunity and blessed to be here,” she said. “I wouldn’t change anything.”

Florida fell to the Aggies 67-48 on Thursday night after blowing a seven-point advantage in the first half to choke its season away.

UF took a 21-14 lead with 2:03 left in the second quarter after holding Texas A&M to 23-percent shooting in the first 20 minutes of play.

However, the Gators were unable to contain the Aggies after that, allowing them to convert 16-of-26 field goals in the second half to seal the contest with a 19-point victory.

Williams concluded her four-year career at Florida with an 18-point performance off 8-of-15 shooting from the floor. Freshman guard Delicia Washington and junior forward Haley Lorenzen contributed for UF as well, notching 10 and eight points, respectively. After the game, Washington reflected at length on her one season playing with Williams.

“I wouldn’t be the person I am now without Ronni,” she said. “She’s my sister. She (will) always have a place in my heart. There is nobody that will ever take her spot. Ronni is that teammate I always wanted to play with no matter what, no matter that she’s not here anymore. I’ll still look up to her.”

Williams answered with, “I love you.”

“I love you too,” Washington answered back.

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For the Aggies, junior center Khaalia Hillsman led the way with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Sophomore guard Danni Williams also totaled double-figure scoring with 17 points, and senior guard Curtyce Knox tallied nine points and a game-high nine assists.

After Texas A&M’s ugly offensive performance in the first half, it came out of the intermission with a bang.

Hillsman scored eight consecutive points to open the third quarter off of three made baskets in the interior coupled with a pair of free throws. A three-point jumper from Danni Williams at the top of the key then gave the Aggies a 29-27 advantage.

Later in the period, multiple field goals from Hillsman, sophomore forward Anriel Howard and senior forward Taylor Cooper sparked an 11-2 run for Texas A&M, blowing the lead wide open to shift all the momentum into its corner.

The Aggies finished out the game outscoring the Gators 25-14 in the fourth quarter, sending Florida home with its sixth loss over its past nine SEC Tournament games.

UF finishes its season with a record of 15-16, a mark not good enough to qualify for postseason play.

The Gators are well out of contention to receive an at-large bid from the NCAA Tournament selection committee, and the WNIT requires all at-large teams to have a winning percentage of .500 or better.

Florida has only missed the postseason one other time under the tenure of head coach Amanda Butler, failing to qualify in 2015.

“Our record did not demonstrate the success we experienced this season,” coach Amanda Butler said. “In a way, that’s hard to know unless you were in our locker room. But I’m very proud of them.

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

UF forward Ronni Williams attempts a layup during Florida's 84-75 loss to Ole Miss on Feb. 6, 2017, in the O'Connell Center. 

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