A hand in her face didn’t stop Dyandria Anderson. From the left wing of the three-point line, the senior guard shot over her defender, finding nothing but the bottom of the net and giving Florida a 16-point lead midway through the third quarter.
It was one of Anderson’s two three-pointers on the afternoon, as she and her fellow seniors enjoyed their second-to-last home game at the O’Connell Center with an 88-71 victory over Vanderbilt on Sunday.
The contest belonged to the Gators’ veterans, as they stole the show from start to finish. Before tip-off, Anderson, forward Haley Lorenzen, forward Paulina Hersler and guard Gabby Seiler were honored at halfcourt as their teammates and spectators joined together to thank them for their contributions.
“(It’s) exciting for our seniors to be able to go out like this,” coach Cameron Newbauer said after the game. “They deserve it. They’re special young ladies that have done so much for Florida in a number of areas.”
After the honors, the Gators (11-16, 3-11 SEC) took the floor, dominating Vanderbilt (6-22, 2-12 SEC) on the offensive end of the floor. The team’s scoring attack was led by its starting lineup, with four of the five Gators starters notching double-digit points.
Redshirt junior Funda Nakkasoglu led all scorers with season-high 25 points on 8-of-16 shooting. She was lights out from behind the arc on Sunday, draining 7-of-13 shots from deep. When asked about her success over the last couple games (21.8 points per game in the last four contests), she deflected credit to rest of her teammates and coaches.
“They gave me so much confidence today,” Nakkasoglu said. “They were on my back through thick and thin.”
The seniors who saw the court — Anderson, Lorenzen and Hersler — combined for 50 points and four triples on Sunday. Lorenzen also collected 11 rebounds, good enough for her 12th double-double of the year, while Anderson shot 6-of-9 from the field.
“We shot the ball really, really well,” Lorenzen said. “And I think that’s what helped open up the inside a lot. We’ve gotten really good at passing the ball inside and my teammates just delivered the ball in great spots in the right moments.”
Sophomore guard Delicia Washington didn’t reach the double-digit point plateau, but she flirted with a triple-double while battling an ankle sprain. She scored nine points, collected nine rebounds and dished out eight assists in the contest, despite doubt lingering over her readiness prior to the game.
Newbauer said the decision to play her was made about 20 minutes before the opening tip.
“I thought she was terrific,” Newbauer said. “I did not think she was gonna play. But that’s just the mind over matter that she’s grown to have. That maturity level from her this year has been fantastic for us.”
Florida also controlled the battle on the boards, out-rebounding Vanderbilt 48-29 and grabbing 12 offensive rebounds in the process.
The Gators might have celebrated their seniors on Sunday, but there is still one more home game on the schedule. This Thursday, they will welcome another top-25 team when No. 11 Tennessee comes to Gainesville for the two teams’ first and only meeting of the year.
Despite one last home game waiting to be played, Florida’s seniors enjoyed the day, grabbed a victory, snapped a six-game losing streak and were sent off in style.
“I couldn’t be more grateful than to be battling with these girls every single day,” Lorenzen said. “I’m very grateful and very blessed to be a Gator.”
Follow Justin Ahlum on Twitter @justinn_case1 and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dyandria Anderson celebrated Senior Day by going 6 of 9 from the field for 16 points while dishing out four assists.