Until the third quarter, Florida looked like it had a shot beating the Georgia Bulldogs.
The players were energized and aggressive. Buckets from Gators guards Kiara Smith, Kristina Moore, Lavender Briggs and Nina Rickards gave Florida the lead for the first quarter. Florida kept Georgia on its toes during the second quarter, with the lead see-sawing until tipping in favor of the Bulldogs.
It looked possible — until it didn’t. So what led to Florida losing 68-58?
For Coach Cam Newbauer, a major obstacle was foul trouble, especially for his star player.
Briggs, the Gators’ top and SEC’s seventh scorer, picked up her third personal foul late into the second quarter. But aside from foul trouble, she didn’t perform like she usually does. The 6-feet-1-inch sophomore, averages 18.5 points per game and scored 25 points against Mississippi State. In Athens, she slightly underperformed Sunday, scoring 16 points.
Smith, who averages 15.2 points per game, finished with just 13 points Sunday. She made about 41.6% of field goals and no three pointers. With two top scorers struggling, the lack of buckets from forward Faith Dut deprived Florida’s strained offense.
The 6-feet-4-inch sophomore was missing in action until her only bucket during the final quarter. Dut’s poor form on Sunday contrasted greatly with her performance last time out, where she hit double-figures.
Moore had an unusual afternoon, making 11 points after only four against MS State. But her strong game wasn’t enough to catalyze Florida’s offense.
After two turnovers led to early buckets, Georgia adjusted to the Gators’ defense like during the game against MS State. Assists were also a weak area for Florida, with UF only dishing out eight compared to Georgia’s 20.
Another factor to consider was Georgia’s go-to weapon: center Jenna Stati. The redshirt senior scored 17 points and leads the SEC in blocks. She scored about 53.8% of her shots compared to 43.75% of Briggs’.
Both teams took about the same amount of shots, but the Bulldogs were more efficient, scoring about 42.42% of field goals and 40% of three pointers. The percentages for the Gators: 39.3% and 25%.
Holding Georgia to 42% shooting is still an admirable defensive feat, as Newbauer highlighted the team’s strong defense and aggressive energy.
Florida's dream of killing its seven loss streak with Georgia died after a careless pass gave the Bulldogs the ball during the last critical minutes, another Achilles heel Newbauer cited.
Contact Grethel Aguila at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @GrethelAguila