Two games, two losses so far for the Florida women’s basketball team.
The Gators will look to get in the win column on Thursday when they travel 250 miles up I-75 to take on Mercer (1-1).
The two losses to start the season don’t tell the whole story, though. Florida lost both games by just nine combined points. They fell to Gardner-Webb 60-58 after Funda Nakkasoglu’s three-pointer at the buzzer came up short. They lost to FSU 63-56 after blowing an early lead.
The results, especially the one against Florida State, can be seen as an improvement over last year, when UF went 11-19 and lost to FSU by 30 points.
“I think we’re confident. We’re confident in the growth we show every day in practice, and together as a group,” UF coach Cam Newbauer said. “We don’t focus on wins and losses. If we do that, that’s gonna shake your confidence. Instead we gotta focus on the growth of each moment.”
Delicia Washington and Nakkasoglu have led the way so far. The two guards have been UF’s most productive players by far this season, averaging 21.5 and 13.5 points per game, respectively. The duo has scored over 60 percent of Florida’s points.
In addition, Nakkasoglu leads the team in three-pointers with nine (no other player has more than two), and Washington leads the team with 17 rebounds.
Zada Williams has been another key contributor so far. The redshirt junior forward averages 8.5 points per game while gathering 15 rebounds.
“Three players that have real experience on the court in Division 1 basketball games,” Newbauer said. “Just in terms of experience on the court, they’ve done a good job of stepping up and trying to lead the way.”
That being said, beating Mercer will be no easy task for the Gators. The Bears had a historic season last year, winning a school-record 27 straight games en route to a 30-3 finish and the school’s first ever NCAA Tournament appearance, along with a spot in the AP Top 25.
Mercer returns most of its starters from last year, including guard Keke Calloway. The senior is off to a brilliant start this season, averaging 26 points a game.
“I don’t think she’s a player you can completely shut down,” Newbauer said. “You have to slow her down a little bit, make her uncomfortable, try to get the ball out of her hands.”
“We’ve gotta have a defensive team rebounding and team offensive game if we wanna have any sort of success,” Newbauer said.
Follow Sam Campisano on Twitter @samcampisano or contact him at email@example.com.
Guard Funda Nakkasoglu led the Gators in scoring with 43 points through the first two games. She's the only UF player shooting over 50.0 percent from the field (57.1).