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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Florida tops Murray State to stay undefeated in the O'Dome

Every Gator saw the court Tuesday as Florida moved to 6-0 at home

Florida's Lavender Briggs takes the ball up the court during a Jan. 28 game against Missouri.
Florida's Lavender Briggs takes the ball up the court during a Jan. 28 game against Missouri.

Florida closed out its non-conference season with a double-digit win against Murray State on Tuesday afternoon at the Stephen O’Connell Center, extending its undefeated home record to 6-0. 

Every Gator played at least seven minutes against the Racers (8-3) as interim head coach Kelly Rae Finley relied on her squad’s depth to secure the win.

Junior guard Lavender Briggs led Florida (10-3) with 12 points and the Gators’ bench contributed 32 points, overwhelming Murray State.

However, Florida’s defense was undoubtedly the story of the afternoon, as the Racers were held to 25 points fewer than its season average of 76. The Racers committed 25 turnovers to just seven assists while the Gators kept a positive ratio with just 14 assists and only 13 giveaways. 

Florida trailed early in the first before a flurry of substitutions changed the game for good. Freshman guard Alberte Rimdal immediately contributed to a 10-3 run with two quick threes. Layups from graduate guard Kiara Smith and sophomore forward Jordyn Merritt cemented the lead as the first quarter closed with the Gators up 18-14.

Both offenses slowed in the second quarter, but Florida maintained control of the game’s tempo, forcing seven turnovers in the period. But the Gators shot only 19% from the field in the second quarter and conceded just nine points to ensure a lead going into the break. 

The third quarter proved decisive for the Racers. Murray State flirted with a comeback but only could bring the deficit to four points before the Gators slammed the door shut. Briggs scored seven in the period as Florida pushed its lead to double-digits. 

A seven point run capped by consecutive fast break buckets put the Racers in a 44-32 hole with just three minutes left in the quarter. 

Florida continued its dominance into the fourth and never lost its double-digit lead for the rest of the game. 

Florida takes the court next on December 30 at 7 p.m. to begin its conference season against Mississippi State in Starkville, Mississippi. The game can be streamed live through SEC Network+.

Contact Ryan Zehnder at Follow him on Twitter @ryan_zehnder.

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