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Friday, April 23, 2021

Gators edge Tigers in an overtime thriller

Florida secured its third SEC victory Thursday after beating LSU 73-66 in overtime

It took Florida nearly three minutes to get on the scoreboard before sophomore Faith Dut hit both free throws to cut LSU’s lead in half.
It took Florida nearly three minutes to get on the scoreboard before sophomore Faith Dut hit both free throws to cut LSU’s lead in half.

With 0.7 seconds left and a 57-57 tie in the fourth, Florida guard Kiara Smith hit what she and the entire Gators bench considered an off-balance, one-handed game-winning layup. 

That is until officials ruled Smith’s layup no basket, saying entered the basket just after the shot-clock buzzer.

In overtime, with slightly more than 40 seconds left, Florida guard Lavender Briggs hit a dagger three-pointer that extended the Gators’ lead to 70-66. 

Florida’s leading scorers, Briggs and Smith, once again delivered productive performances. The duo combined for more than half of Florida’s points and posted their fourth and fifth double-doubles, respectively.

It took Florida nearly three minutes to get on the scoreboard before sophomore Faith Dut hit both free throws to cut LSU’s lead in half.

A pair of LSU free throws led to a tiresome Florida possession and a backcourt violation — a recurring theme for the Gators early on. Florida committed six turnovers in the first six minutes of the game, which is uncharacteristic for a team that averages slightly more than 13 turnovers per game.

Nearing the halfway mark of the first quarter, Florida freshman forward Floor Toonders converted a layup for UF’s first basket of the game before LSU hit back-to-back jumpers to take its largest lead of the game. Five straight Florida points and seesawing possessions left the Gators trailing 16-14 in the first.

Briggs and Smith, who combine for 38.7 points in conference play, scored only two points in the first quarter.

The duo came out hot in the second quarter, though. A Briggs jumper followed a Smith jumper, giving the Gators their first lead of the game.

Following a three-and-a-half-minute scoring drought, Dut scored around the rim before a Smith fast-break layup put Florida up by four. Briggs capped off the Gators’ 7-0 run with her first three-pointer of the night. The Gators continued to play lockdown defense as they held LSU scoreless for a seven-minute stretch.

With under a minute to go in the half, LSU guard Khayla Pointer broke the Tigers’ cold streak as she drained a shot clock buzzer-beating three.

After holding LSU to just five points on 2-12 shooting in the second quarter, Florida took a 25-21 lead into the half.

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LSU cut Florida’s lead to two after the break as Aifuwa reached double-digits on a layup. Briggs answered with another three before an LSU free throw and jumper. Smith then hit a layup to match Briggs at eight points and extended the Gators’ lead to four.  

Toonders made her third bucket of the night before back-to-back LSU layups kept the Tigers within reach. A pair of Smith free throws and a layup gave Florida its largest lead of the second half before LSU closed the quarter with an 8-5 advantage.

Pointer, who finished the game with a season-high 27 points, opened the fourth quarter with an and-one followed by an easy layup that put the Tigers on top 42-41. Briggs responded with a jumper before Pointer poured in her seventh basket to steal the lead right back. 

On the ensuing Gators’ possession, Smith got to the line and hit both free throws. Nearly a minute later, Toonders gave Florida some breathing room after hitting a putback layup. But LSU guard Tiara Young’s layup at the midway point of the quarter cut the Gators’ lead back just a point.

Florida struggled to contain Pointer, who made two more layups down the stretch of the fourth quarter, including an and-one that tied the game at 57 with just a minute to go. After both teams failed to score, the game head to overtime.

Briggs opened the extra period with a jumper before a pair of Pointer free throws. At the midway, an LSU layup gave the Tigers a one-point lead. Free throws from Smith and Florida guard Danielle Rainey granted the Gators a 65-63 advantage.

After freshman guard Brynn Farrell made a hard-earned layup to put the Gators up by three, an LSU layup brought the score to  67-66. Briggs’ dagger three and several Florida free throws then secured the Gators’ victory.

UF will look to stay in the win column as it returns to Gainesville for Monday night’s contest against No. 20 Kentucky. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the O’Connell Center and will stream 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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