It was all smiles before Thursday night’s game at the O’Connell Center as Florida honored its lone senior, Funda Nakkasoglu, on Senior Night.
Those smiles didn’t last through the first quarter.
The Gators shot just 4-of-16 in the opening period on their way to a 69-57 loss to Georgia (18-10, 9-6 SEC) in the season’s penultimate game.
Still, Florida competed toe-to-toe with one of the league’s best defensive teams for most of the night. The two teams matched each other in points in every single quarter outside of the first, in which Georgia outscored the Gators 20-8.
“I thought we did a good job after that first quarter,” coach Cam Newbauer said after the game. “We still gotta continue to improve, but I thought we did over the course of the night.”
Florida (6-22, 2-13 SEC) started the contest by making just two of its first 14 shots. Before the game was seven minutes old, the Gators already trailed 20-4. It was a hole they wouldn’t be able to dig themselves out of.
They did, however, put up a fight. Forward Zada Williams led the way for Florida with a career-high 21 points on 10-of-14 shooting. Nakkasoglu continued her excellent season by adding 14 points of her own.
The rebounding battle told most of the story. Georgia dominated the boards, snagging 41 rebounds to Florida’s 28. Florida also lost the turnover battle and went just 5-of-24 from beyond the arc.
Georgia had five players score in double digits. Guard Taja Cole led the way for the Bulldogs with 18, to go along with her team-high eight rebounds.
The game’s most emotional moment came with 22 seconds left. Newbauer subbed Nakkasoglu off, and Florida’s leading-scorer left her home court for the last time to a standing ovation and a hug from her coach.
Nakkasoglu also took to the Gator logo at center court right after the game and thanked the home fans for their support this season in what the guard described as a “spur of the moment” act.
“I did shed a tear or two, which I didn’t think was gonna happen,” Nakkasoglu said. “I’m gonna miss every part of playing at the O’Dome.”
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Guard Funda Nakkasoglu was honored on Senior Night and scored 14 points in the Gators 69-57 loss to Georgia.