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Monday, June 24, 2024

Gators dominate down low for their second win of the season

Five different Florida players scored double-digit points

Senior guard Leilani Correa shoots a free throw against the Florida A&M Rattlers Monday, Nov. 7, 2022.
Senior guard Leilani Correa shoots a free throw against the Florida A&M Rattlers Monday, Nov. 7, 2022.

UNC Asheville was no match for the Gators down low as Florida scored 60 points in the paint to down the Bulldogs.

The Gators attacked the basket all game with fast breaks to create constant chances in the paint. Florida found opportunities throughout the game with nine different Gators making an assist.

Florida head coach Kelly Rae Finley said getting more touches in the paint was something her team was a focused on getting better. She applauded how her players moved together and were on the same page throughout the game. 

The Gators moved to 2-0 on the season after beating UNC Asheville 86-40 Sunday afternoon. Florida led for all four quarters and outscored the Bulldogs 49-17 in the second half.

Finley said it was important for her team to make the most of every minute. 

“We don’t have the opportunity to waste them,” Finley said. 

The game started slow, as both teams failed to hit jump shots. The Gators made just one shot out of their first six, while the Bulldogs sunk only one out of seven. 

Finley was not disappointed with her team’s start, she said. The pace her team plays at is hard for opponents to keep up with and she said her squad’s depth allowed the Gators to start to pull away as the game progressed. 

Senior guard Leilani Correa came off the bench to give Florida the spark it needed offensively. She missed a jump shot but got her own rebound to score a layup and draw the foul. She quickly scored another layup on the following possession.

The Gators ended the first quarter making the most of their fast break opportunities with 12 points. Correa constantly got out on the break and scored 10 of Florida’s 22 first-quarter points. Despite a slow start, UF made eight of its last nine field goals. 

The Gators continued their aggressive defense from their last game. Senior guard KK Deans stole the ball and drove down the court for a layup, and drew a foul on the way to help Florida’s lead continue to swell.

Florida took a 14-point lead into the second half due to its ability to attack the basket. The team found success in the paint, with 11 of its 14 first-half-made field goals coming from layups. 

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Correa provided help on the bench with 15 first-half points including a wide-open 3-pointer from the corner midway through the second quarter. 

Senior guard Nina Rickards started the second half with two layups to spark a 10-0 run for Florida. Correa also contributed to the run early in the third quarter with a steal at halfcourt and a breakaway score. 

Deans capped off the run with a steal and score of her own coming out of the third-quarter media timeout. A few possessions later, she drilled a 3-pointer as Florida’s lead continued to grow. 

The Gators outscored the Bulldogs 27-9 in the third quarter and opened the final quarter on an 11-0 run. 

Florida finished the game shooting 46% from the field, while the Bulldogs shot just 25%. Despite success inside, UF only made five of its 22 attempts from behind the arc. 

Correa led the team in scoring with 17 points. Five Gators finished in double figures in scoring. Florida finished with 31 points off of fast breaks as well as 35 forced turnovers. 

Finley said having multiple players who could score helped make her team harder to scout. She attributed this to the hard work put in by her players and to the work the coaching staff was doing.

“It could be anybody’s night,” Finley said. 

The Gators will play its first road game against the Florida State Seminoles Wednesday at 6 p.m. The game will stream on ACC Network Extra. 

Contact Jackson Reyes at jacksonreyes@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter at @JacksnReyes.

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Jackson Reyes

Jackson Reyes is a UF journalism senior and The Alligator's Fall 2023 Sports Editor. He previously served as Digital Managing Editor and was a reporter and assistant editor on the sports desk. In his free time, he enjoys collecting records, long walks on the beach and watching Bo Nix.


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