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Wednesday, October 20, 2021
<p>Kiara Smith</p>

Kiara Smith

Florida guard Kiara Smith had a forgettable start to Monday’s game against Presbyterian despite playing every second of the opening half.

Smith, who averages a team-high 13.5 points per game, went into the break scoreless on 0-for-4 shooting from the field.

But guards Ariel Johnson and Kristina Moore were there to help the Gators offensively.

The duo shot a combined 7 of 15 from the floor and accounted for 16 of UF’s 30 first-half points, lifting Florida’s women’s basketball team to a 60-46 victory over the Blue Hose at the O’Connell Center.

“That’s one of the benefits we have this year,” Johnson said. “With our team, all of us are pretty good, all of us can score.”

With Smith struggling to find the bottom of the net, the Gators attacked the paint with forward Zada Williams. 

The 6-foot-2 redshirt senior used her height to dominate the shorter Presbyterian defenders in the paint, finishing the contest with 10 points and nine rebounds.

Guard Lavender Briggs stepped up to shoulder the load, too.

She went just 4 of 12 from the field, but that didn’t stop the freshman from pulling up when she had the space.

“I came out with the same mindset as before: just shoot,” Briggs said. “Coach kept saying, ‘You can’t score if you don’t shoot.’”

Briggs tied Smith for a team-high 11 points against Presbyterian, with all of Smith’s points coming in the second half. 

The balance of Florida’s offense was evident in Monday’s triumph, as the Gators featured four double-digit scorers for the second-consecutive game: Briggs (11), Smith (11), Johnson (10) and Williams (10).

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The Gators were a force on the defensive side of the ball, as well.

They limited Presbyterian to just 40 points on 28.8 percent (15-of-52) shooting, including an eight-point fourth quarter that, ultimately, put the game out of reach.

UF’s active hands on defense forced the Blue Hose into 21 turnovers, which led to 14 points for Florida on the other side of the court. This marked the second time this season that the Gators have caused 20-plus turnovers.

Florida’s depth on offense and feistiness on defense have propelled the team to a 4-0 record for the first time under coach Cam Newbauer. And it will need both of those when No. 18 Indiana steps foot inside the O’Dome Friday night.

Follow Bryan Matamoros on Twitter @bryan_2712. Contact him at bmatamoros@alligator.org

Kiara Smith

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