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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Florida exits WNIT classic with a much-needed win against Wofford.

The Gators defeat Wofford College 61-47 to improve to 2-2 on the season

<p>Gator guard Lavender Briggs facing Longwood University in November 2019. The Utah native scored nearly 1,000 points in over two seasons with the Gators.</p>

Gator guard Lavender Briggs facing Longwood University in November 2019. The Utah native scored nearly 1,000 points in over two seasons with the Gators.

The Florida women’s basketball team went into its last game of the Preseason Women’s National Invitational Tournament Classic needing to return home with a win after dropping games versus Towson and No. 5 North Carolina State.

 The Gators did just that.

They (2-2) forced 20 turnovers to defeat Wofford College (0-4), 61-47 who did not claim a single victory in Raleigh, North Carolina. 

The Gators opened up the game with a strong defensive effort to hold the Terriers to just three points with just over four minutes left in the first quarter. Florida’s lead ballooned as high as 10, and junior Lavender Briggs and senior Emanuely de Oliveira combined for 10 of Florida’s 18 points for the quarter. 

Wofford responded in the second quarter with a tough layup and a smooth jumper from Reagan Rapert, cutting the deficit to eight. But the Gators seasoned veteran guard Kiara Smith nailed two clutch free throws to help the Gators enter halftime up 10. The game still seemed within reach for Wofford, especially after putting up 14 points heading into halftime.

The Gators rediscovered their defensive energy from the first quarter and used an 8-2 run early to take control of the game. The Terriers were held to just four points for the entire third quarter, a season low for a Gator opponent. 

Wofford only scored 40 points through three quarters in its loss to Towson on Sunday, 64-48. But the Gators defense kept the Terriers to a mere 27 through three quarters.

In the fourth quarter, Florida sent the Terriers packing. A major factor in Florida's victory was its effort on the defensive end that helped the team score 23 points off turnovers. Junior Faith Dut had a career high three blocks that stifled any hope the Terriers had of making a run.

Following Florida’s loss to the Wolfpack, interim head coach Kelly Rae Finley said the Gators can learn and take away important lessons on how to improve their defensive effort as the season continues. They showed how quickly they can learn Monday

“We need to work on our balanced attack as well as 1-on-1 defense and our collective defense as a whole,” Finley said, according to a release. “We will see teams like this in the SEC, so it's a good challenge early on."

Florida returns home to the O’Connell Center on Nov. 19 against Grambling State. The last time these two met was in November of 2020, and the Gators won comfortably, 90-47.

Tipoff is set to begin at 6 p.m. and the game can be streamed live on SEC Network+.

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Contact Brenda Bogle at Follow her on Twitter @bogle_brenda.

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Brenda Bogle

Brenda Bogle is a UF journalism senior with a specialization in sports and media. She joined The Alligator in the Fall of 2021.

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