Guard Funda Nakkasoglu found her deep shot at the right time. She rose up without hesitation and made back-to-back threes, the ball slicing through the net and giving the Gators the lead late in the third quarter.
Nakkasoglu’s 30-point performance helped the Florida Gators’ women’s basketball team wrap up non-conference play with a 70-60 win over the Charleston Southern Buccaneers on Sunday at the O’Connell Center. The win snapped a three-game losing streak, but a slow start made it difficult.
The Gators (4-9) made just four of their first 15 shots to start the game -- and, at one point, trailed CSU by eight points -- before they settled in and began to take smarter shots.
Nakkasoglu used physical drives to the basket to score after her threes wouldn’t fall early on. The Australian closed out the first half with 12 points on 5-7 shooting but made no three-pointers. UF made nine of its last 13 shots and went into the break with a five-point lead off a 16-3 run.
“Really proud of (Nakkasoglu),” coach Cam Newbauer said after the game. “She did a great job of commanding inside and taking smart shots.”
It became a game of runs in the second half as both teams traded big blows.
Charleston Southern (3-8) quickly harped on an 8-0 run to tie the game before the Gators answered with their own 8-0 sequence. Florida fed its 6-foot-2 forward, Zada Williams, in the post, and she took advantage of an undersized CSU frontcourt to tally a career-high 18 points.
However, the Buccaneers responded once again by using the Gators’ aggressive defense against them to draw fouls, make free throws and take the lead for the first time in the second half.
But Nakkasoglu stole the momentum at the end of the third quarter with her back-to-back three-pointers, giving UF a lead it would not relinquish.
The Gators made their final 16 free throws and closed non-conference play with a victory. A couple of those free throws helped Nakkasoglu cross the 30-point mark for the fourth time in her career.
The capable free throw shooting that Florida showed on Sunday will be crucial entering SEC play. The Gators will attempt to continue that momentum as they travel to Tuscaloosa to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide on Thursday.
“It was about focus,” Newbauer said. “A great sign of our focus was our free throw shooting. I will take this performance every day of the week and twice on Sunday’s. Can’t wait for conference play.”
Follow Dylan Rudolph on Twitter at @dyrudolph and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guard Funda Nakkasoglu scored 30 points to help the Gators' women's basketball team snap a three-game losing streak in a 70-60 win over Charleston Southern.