Redshirt junior guard Funda Nakkasoglu drove to the paint from the right side of the three-point line. She beat her defender, cut inside the incoming forward and raised up for a layup attempt without opposition.
The ball left her fingers, weakly bounced off the lowest part of the backboard and tipped off her hand out of bounds.
In her first game back from an ankle injury suffered on Nov. 21, Nakkasoglu wasn’t playing like her usual self. Coach Cameron Newbauer said she hadn’t been practicing much leading up to Florida’s 69-59 win against the Dolphins. He also said her ankle wasn’t 100 percent during the game.
“(She) kind of favored that a little bit here and there,” Newbauer said. “It isn’t her best, but we’ll take it.”
Nakkasoglu had arguably her worst night as a Gator against Jacksonville. She finished the game just 2-of-11 from the field, shooting well below her season average of 54.5 percent. After leading the team with 17 points per game before her injury, Nakkasoglu ended up with six on Tuesday night.
Nakkasoglu also had six turnovers against the Dolphins after giving the ball away nine times through her first four games.
Newbauer said even with Nakkasoglu hampered by her ankle, she’s a valuable asset for the Gators offense.
“Just the fact that she was out there I think took some defensive awareness to her and also helped our other players to get shots,” Newbauer said.
He said he appreciated her toughness and aggressiveness during the game.
Those traits will be put to the test Sunday at 3 p.m. in the Big 12-SEC Challenge. The Gators will play against an Oklahoma team looking to bounce back from two consecutive losses against Oregon and Little Rock in which the Sooners were outscored by a combined 30 points.
Senior Vionise Pierre-Louis leads Oklahoma’s scoring attack. Her team-high 18 points per game on 68.4 percent shooting is a testament to the Sooners’ approach of feeding the 6-foot-4 center in the paint.
Pierre-Louis is joined by fellow senior Gabbi Ortiz. Ortiz, a guard from Racine, Wisconsin, leads the Big 12 in minutes played and is shooting 41.7 percent from beyond the arc.
Whether or not Nakkasoglu is 100 percent on Sunday, Newbauer said he’s been preaching a “next man up” mentality to account for her injury. With sophomore forward Sydney Morang, a key bench piece for Newbauer, out for the year with concussion-like symptoms, he said his players will be ready to play unfamiliar positions.
“That’s the versatility that we’re trying to build with this group,” Newbauer said.
You can follow Morgan McMullen on Twitter @MorganMcMuffin, and contact him at email@example.com.
Florida transfer guard Funda Nakkasoglu (3) is still bothered by an ankle injury suffered on Nov. 21.