The number two appeared in the box score numerous times after Thursday night’s Florida women’s basketball game.
The Gators’ made three-pointers? Two. The Gators’ amount of steals? Two. UF’s third-quarter point total? Two.
It was a night of statistical lows for the Gators as they fell to No. 15 Tennessee 70-42 at the O’Connell Center.
The two-point third quarter was the biggest blemish during a night where Florida’s offense struggled to find momentum. UF shot 1-of-12 from the field and didn’t make any of its attempts shots from behind the arc. Paulina Hersler was the only Gator to score in the frame, draining a jumper after the midway point of the third quarter.
“We were depleted,” Newbauer said. “But hats off to (Tennessee) for the adjustments they made. We knew they were gonna try to take away the three-point line because we’ve shot it so well as of late.”
All game long, UF couldn’t figure out UT’s press defense. The Volunteers showcased full-court pressure and denied Florida at the three-point line from start to finish.
Florida (11-17, 3-12 SEC) shot 2-of-18 from behind the arc, its worst performance from downtown all season.
The relentless pressure also forced the Gators into 25 turnovers, their second-highest total all season (Dec. 31 at Auburn: 28 turnovers).
“They got their hands in the passing lanes,” guard Funda Nakkasoglu said. “I think that it kind of got in our heads and that played a big part in why we had so many turnovers.”
Newbauer said the game was a “tale of two halves,” as UF played shot-for-shot with the Volunteers (22-6, 10-5 SEC) in the opening 20 minutes, trailing by only four points at the break.
Hersler was the only Gator to score in double figures on Thursday. The forward had 12 points on 6-of-12 shooting with five rebounds inside. Nakkasoglu, who was averaging over 20 points per game over the last four games coming into the night, failed to score in double figures for the seventh time this season.
She had nine points on 3-of-10 shooting and only knocked down one of her five attempts from deep.
“With the amount of turnovers, we didn’t get as many shot attempts,” Nakkasoglu said. “I think that’s one big reason why we didn’t have more than 42 (points) or we didn’t have better shots.”
The Gators were also missing one of their key playmakers during the game. Sophomore Delicia Washington was held out due to a nagging left ankle injury. Newbauer said her status is day-to-day and that the Gators starting guard wanted to give it a go even with her ailment.
“We just wanted to rest her and make sure she’s prepared for next week,” Newbauer said. “We just didn’t feel like it was the best thing for our program, or the best thing for her.”
Despite the loss, the Gators’ home crowd still stuck around to pay its respects to a few of its own. For Hersler, forward Haley Lorenzen and guard Dyandria Anderson, Thursday night was the last time the three seniors would play in front their home crowd.
“These fans are special,” Lorenzen said as she fought back tears. “These fans are always going to come back because of the foundation that we’re laying for this year.”
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Forward Paulina Hersler put up 12 points and was the only Gator to score in double figures Thursday night against Tennessee.