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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Gators look to bounce back against No. 5 North Carolina State

Florida hopes to capture its first win of the WNIT preseason classic on Sunday

<p>Kiki Smith (left) and Lavender Briggs (right), pictured during a game against Mizzou game Jan. 28. Smith scored a game-high 28 points for the Gators Sunday.</p>

Kiki Smith (left) and Lavender Briggs (right), pictured during a game against Mizzou game Jan. 28. Smith scored a game-high 28 points for the Gators Sunday.

The road only gets steeper for the Gators at the Preseason Women’s National Invitational Tournament after falling to Towson Friday, 87-70. They’ll have to face No. 5 North Carolina State Sunday in Raleigh, North Carolina. 

Townson guard Aleah Nelson was virtually automatic from the 3-point line, going 6-7 and led all scorers with 39. 

Florida offered no defensive answer for the Tigers and headed into halftime trailing 55-38. 

Forward Jordyn Merritt was the lone bright spot for the Gators. She scored 18 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and went four for four from behind the arc. 

Despite a valiant effort in the fourth quarter against a cooled-off Townson team to cut the lead to 11, the Gators failed to recover from Townson’s offensive explosion in the first half. 

"Our starts are something that we're focusing on and that first quarter was tough for us,” interim head coach Kelly Rae Finley said about the loss, according to a release. “Towson did a great job of executing their game plan and we were hesitant because of it. They're a very talented team. We are focused on continuing to improve every day."

Playing through every possession is something graduate student Kiara Smith spoke about following the win against Georgia State.

“We want to play our game full 40 minutes no matter what the scoreboard is,” she said.

Florida showed great defensive urgency in its exhibition game against Flagler College on Nov. 5. The Gators scored 25 points off turnovers and pushed the ball down the court for 21 fast break points.

Domination in the paint was another trademark of the Gators' performance through their first two games, scoring 42 and 62 points against the Panthers and Lions, respectively. Towson limited Florida to only 20 points in the paint Friday. 

NC State comes into this match-up after picking up a commanding win against Wofford College, 90-57. The Wolfpack had four players in double figures and showed their ability to get inside with 40 of their points coming from the painted area.

The game is set to begin at 2 p.m. and can be streamed live on ACC 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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