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Saturday, April 17, 2021

Florida’s depth provides a much-needed boost in Gators’ overtime victory over LSU

After relying heavily on the production of star guards Lavender Briggs and Kiara Smith in recent games, UF’s depth came to life in its OT win at LSU.

<p>Florida forward Faith Dut (25) chipped in six point in Florida&#x27;s overtime victory vs. LSU Thursday</p>

Florida forward Faith Dut (25) chipped in six point in Florida's overtime victory vs. LSU Thursday

Star Florida guards Lavender Briggs and Kiara Smith average 38.8 points combined per conference game, which lands each player inside the top 10 in points per SEC game.

Coach Cam Newbauer leans on this pair as much as any tandem in the country as a 10-8 Florida team is sub-.500 (5-6) when the duo fails to reach 40 points in a game.

An overreliance on the backcourt duo led to a 2-7 conference start. But in last night’s road victory against LSU, Florida received rare production elsewhere on its depth chart that helped the Gators earn their third SEC win of the season.

Although Briggs and Smith scored most of Florida’s points in the victory, the tandem poured in only two of the Gators’ 14 points in the first quarter. The remaining points, five of which came off the bench, were scored via contributions by guard Danielle Rainey and forward Floor Toonders.

Excluding Briggs and Smith, Florida shot over 45% from the field against LSU after shooting only 25% from the floor in their two previous contests, both of which the Gators lost. Florida’s vast improvement included its bench, which outscored LSU’s bench by 15 points. 

Forward Faith Dut and guard Brynn Farrell each scored six points off the Gator bench. Farrell averages 1.7 points per game, but the freshman has scored six points in each of her last two games. 

Toonders, who averages just 3.4 points per game, shot a perfect 4-4 from the field and matched her season-high eight points. Before last night, the Dutch forward had yet to eclipse three points in conference play. 

As Gators surrounding Briggs and Smith improve upon their season starts, Florida sophomore guard Nina Rickards struggles. Before fouling out against LSU, Florida’s leading rebounder collected five boards and scored just three points. After shooting 3-16 against Missouri, the five-foot-nine-inch Queens, New York, native took only six shot attempts in the two games since, highlighted by an 0-4 effort at Tennessee.

The recent surge in Briggs and Smith’s contributions will continue to be a key to Floirda’s success. Briggs and Smith are special talents who have the capability to carry a team on their backs, but the SEC gauntlet demands production from the entire depth to be victorious. With only four games remaining until the start of the SEC Tournament, the Gators will require production from players around Briggs and Smith to advance Florida to the next level.

The Gators will look to carry their momentum as they return to the O’Connell Center to host No. 20 Kentucky Monday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will air on SEC Network.

Contact Griffin Foll at gfoll@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @GriffinFoll



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Griffin Foll

Griffin Foll is a sophomore at UF studying journalism sports and media. He is one of The Alligator's women’s basketball beat writers. Griffin is also a UF softball beat reporter for ChompTalk.com and contributes weekly articles for ESPN Gainesville.


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