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Saturday, April 20, 2024
<p>Florida guard Delicia Washington turned in a season-high 23 points Monday night in a losing effort against No. 15 Missouri.</p>

Florida guard Delicia Washington turned in a season-high 23 points Monday night in a losing effort against No. 15 Missouri.

Down by two with 10 seconds remaining, Florida guard Funda Nakkasoglu circled to the right-side corner. She picked up her dribble after her defender stepped up. Five seconds left. Nakkasoglu made an outlet pass to teammate Delicia Washington, who instantly felt the presence of a Missouri player in her face. Three seconds left. Washington gave up the ball to forward Haley Lorenzen at the top of the key, who heaved a desperation three-pointer from well beyond the arc.

Buzzer. Airball. Game over.

The Gators (10-13, 2-8 SEC) traded the lead with No. 15 Missouri several times down stretch on Monday night, but came up short in the closing seconds, losing 66-64 in Columbia.

“They took away our first option,” coach Cameron Newbauer said. “We didn’t get to the second option.”

Newbauer said he considered taking -- and should’ve taken -- a timeout once Lorenzen got the ball, and that he “screwed up there at the end.”

Florida’s defense keyed in on Tigers leading scorer Sophie Cunningham early in the game. The move paid off for Newbauer, as his team held the point guard to two points on 1-of-3 shooting in the first half.

Newbauer joked that his defense — a zone scheme focused on stopping Missouri’s guards — was “just our man-to-man.” He laughed at the one-off comment.

“We’re trying all kinds of things tonight to see what we can do to make them uncomfortable,” he said after the first quarter. “Make some other people shoot the ball and see if they can keep shooting it.”

Missouri’s Cierra Porter answered Newbauer’s challenge. The 6-foot-4 forward provided most of the Tigers’ offense in the initial stages.

Porter entered the night having made just 4 of 18 shots from three this season and was left uncontested beyond the arc several times in the opening half. She played the role of Missouri’s ringer, draining six of her first seven shots and pouring in 21 points in the first half. She ended the game with a career-high 27 points.

“Gameplan tonight was just to make some other people beat us,” Newbauer said. “Tough part is that all these young ladies are Division-I athletes. You just hope that maybe they’re not used to making some of those shots that you’re going to give them.”

With Porter’s hot hand, the Tigers (18-5, 6-4 SEC) and Gators ended the half in a deadlock at 32 apiece. Washington and forward Paulina Hersler kept UF in the game with 14 points and 12 points, respectively. The pair made also made all four of Florida’s long balls. Every other Gator combined to go 0-for-13 shooting from three-point range.

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In the second half, guard Dyandria Anderson stepped up to provide a boost for the Gators. The 5-foot-10 senior contributed nine points — including a four-point play — in a third-quarter effort that buoyed the offense.

But Missouri’s scoring attack proved too much for Florida to slow down in the fourth. The teams matched each other’s production point for point, and the Gators couldn’t produce a bucket in the closing minute.

Newbauer said he couldn’t have asked for much more from his players than how they performed tonight.

“So proud of our kids and the effort they displayed at a top-15 team on the road,” he said. “Just the fight, the resolve, the resiliency they showed.”

The Gators travel back to Gainesville to take on No. 2 Mississippi State at the O’Connell Center on Thursday night at 7.

A broadcast from the SEC Network contributed to this report.

Follow Morgan McMullen on Twitter @MorganMcMuffin and contact him at

Florida guard Delicia Washington turned in a season-high 23 points Monday night in a losing effort against No. 15 Missouri.

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