Florida guard Delicia Washington ran up the court with the ball and the momentum with just over five minutes left in the fourth quarter as her team traded baskets with Florida State.
The game was shifting back into the Gators’ favor until Washington lost her footing when she tried to receive a pass and fell to the ground, the ball squirting from her hands and right into the chest of Florida State’s Savannah Wilkinson.
Washington and the rest of her team could only watch as Wilkinson glided to the other end for an easy basket to dissolve the last of Florida’s momentum and ice the game for the Seminoles.
Bad mistakes and unlucky breaks were big reasons why UF (0-2) lost to rival Florida State (3-0) 63-56 in Tallahassee on Sunday afternoon. Coach Cam Newbauer said he saw lots of positives in the game but knew it wasn’t enough.
“To come in here on the road against Florida State, they’re good,” he said. “The way we kept fighting when we got down was great. We just need to make our plays when they come.”
Florida started off with control of the game. Tough interior defense that suffocated the Seminoles and created bad shots was a big reason for the 15-8 UF lead at the end of the first quarter. The undersized Gator team also boxed out well to out-rebound FSU 16-8 in the first half.
But Florida State took over from there. Constant defensive pressure and better shot selection reduced the sizable lead during the second quarter. FSU coach Sue Semrau went to full-court pressure, creating more turnovers and fast breaks that led to a 7-0 Seminole run to draw to within one point at the end of the first half.
And it continued into the third quarter.
Another 7-0 run to begin the third quarter put Florida on its heels and gave FSU its first lead of the game. Florida State’s Valencia Myers carried her team with two blocks, two steals and nine clutch points in the quarter that shifted the momentum to her side and gave the crowd at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center a reason to cheer after the slow start.
The Gators’ rebounding, which was a big reason for the early lead, failed them late as the Seminoles hauled in four offensive rebounds in the final 2:03 of the game.
“We were just handing it to them,” Newbauer said. “That’s when we need to be smarter and be focused because those things make the biggest difference.”
Clutch play down the stretch will need to be a big priority in practice before Florida’s next game against Mercer on Thursday.
Guard Funda Nakkasoglu was the lone standout in the loss. The redshirt senior led both rosters with 21 points and made six three-pointers, one shy of tying her career-high. Newbauer was happy with her performance, and the performance of Washington, the other veteran on the young team who had 13 points and nine rebounds.
“(Nakkasoglu) is a competitor,” Newbauer said. “She wants to win. She wants to play well. It wasn’t pretty, but we fought hard, and that’s the most important thing we need to keep doing.”
Follow Dylan Rudolph on Twitter at @dyrudolph and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guard Delicia Washington released her potential game-winning layup too late as time expired in regulation. Florida went to overtime with Northwestern and lost, 83-74.