It was 57-53 in favor of the Gators.
UF guard Lavender Briggs knocked down a trey to put Florida ahead by four with 5:08 to play in the fourth quarter. It appeared to be a similar finish to last year’s matchup, when coach Cam Newbauer’s group edged the Crimson Tide in a two-point victory.
But after that Briggs three, Alabama finished the game on a 16-5 run, and suddenly the narrative was entirely different.
The dominant surge by the home team, spearheaded by guard Jordan Lewis, left the Gators frazzled late and with an additional tally in the loss column. The Crimson Tide defeated Florida 69-62 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on Thursday night to improve to 15-11(5-8 SEC), while UF fell to 14-11 (5-8 SEC).
Despite the loss, Briggs was brilliant all night for the orange and blue. Seemingly nothing the Crimson Tide tried worked against the Provo, Utah, native as she dropped 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting. She sunk three of her five three-point attempts and tacked on five rebounds and two assists. Her only struggle of the night was free-throw shooting, as she got to the charity stripe seven times only to knock down two.
She was not the only Gator struggling to make her free shots count. As a team, Florida shot a woeful 8 of 21 from the free-throw line. The Crimson Tide were not particularly impressive in that category, shooting only 13 of 23 themselves, but it was enough to be a key difference in this contest.
But more problematic than missing free throws, was the lack of contribution from anyone not named Briggs wearing a black jersey. Point guard Kiara Smith barely scraped double-figure scoring with 11 points, but it was only off of a 4-of-11 shooting night from the field.
Freshman guard Brylee Bartram, who had a career game last time out against Missouri on Sunday with 18 points off of six threes, could not have been less effective in Tuscaloosa. Through her 12 minutes of action, she only shot two threes and missed both.
Florida won the rebounding battle (38-36) and the turnover battle (13-15), but UF was uncharacteristically beaten in the paint.
Alabama forward Jasmine Walker had 13 points while Florida forward Zada Williams had just six. Williams typically dominates inside for the Gators, and the lack of that winning presence tonight made things difficult down the stretch for the Gators.
Florida will have to get over this tough loss quickly, as it heads home to play Arkansas on Sunday at 4 p.m.
Follow Graham on Twitter @GrahamMarshUF and contact him at email@example.com.
Guard Nina Rickards scored just six points in a road loss to Alabama Thursday night.