Clinging onto a three-point lead late in overtime, the Florida Gators needed a stop to extend their win streak to eight games and defeat the Miami Hurricanes.
Florida senior guard KK Deans took on Miami’s leading scorer, guard Haley Cavinder, and sent back her 3-point attempt with a game-sealing block as the seconds ticked away. Cavinder threw up one more desperation shot as the clock expired, but it fell short.
The Gators (10-1) defeated the Hurricanes (7-4), 76-73, Sunday afternoon in an overtime thriller in Coral Gables. The matchup was the first time the teams played each other since 2010.
Deans opened the game with a barrage of points to help Florida take an early lead. She scored the first basket of the game and later hit two 3-pointers in the first quarter.
Miami fired back, raining it from beyond the arc. Cavinder opened the game 3-3 from 3-point range. The Hurricanes took a late lead at the end of the opening quarter, 20-17.
Florida made over half of its first-quarter jump shots, but five turnovers proved costly. The Hurricanes scored 12 first-quarter points off of turnovers.
Cavinder opened the second quarter draining her fourth 3-pointer in as many attempts to extend the Hurricanes' lead to eight points. A Miami layup later pushed the lead to 10 points.
Florida sophomore guard Alberte Rimdal connected on a triple to cut the lead to single digits. The Gators proceeded to go on a 10-0 run over a five-minute stretch to cut the Hurricanes’ lead to two points late in the second quarter. UF senior guard Leilani Correa made a fast break layup and a corner 3-pointer to help cut into Miami’s lead.
The Hurricanes ended their scoring drought with one free throw but didn’t make a single jump shot in the last seven minutes of the second quarter. Florida failed to take advantage of Miami’s drought, going scoreless in the closing three minutes of the quarter.
After starting the game with eight points, Deans struggled to get going for the Gators. She opened the second half with two turnovers and finished with six total. Miami went on a 5-0 run to force a Florida timeout and take a 38-30 lead midway through the third quarter.
Cavinder and the Hurricanes extended the lead back to double digits by attacking the basket. UF sophomore forward Taliyah Wyche stole the ball and assisted senior guard Nina Rickards on a layup to claw back into the game.
Correa received the ball on a fast break and got fouled on the shot. She couldn’t convert the layup, but she connected on both of her free throws. On the following possession, she was on the other end of another fast break layup and turned it into a three-point play.
Miami guard Ja’Leah Williams scored a layup as the third quarter came to a close to give the Hurricanes a 49-43 lead going into the final quarter. Miami nailed three triples in the third quarter, while Florida failed to make any of its four attempts.
Deans scored her first points since the opening quarter with a transition 3-pointer that cut Miami’s lead to four points.
Rickards brought the Gators back into the game with a pair of mid-range jump shots. She cut the Hurricanes' lead to just two points late in the fourth quarter. The Hurricanes extended the lead back to five points with two trips to the charity stripe, but Rickards scored a layup to keep it a one-possession game.
A Rickards layup cut the lead to just one point with 1:30 left in the game. She scored 10 straight points to keep the Gators alive.
Deans made a fadeaway jump shot to give Florida a one-point lead with 38 seconds remaining. The shot gave the Gators their first lead since the opening quarter. Williams put the Hurricanes ahead again with a layup on the other side of the court.
Coming out of the timeout, Rickards drove to the basket and drew a foul. She only made one of her free throws and tied the game at 65. The Gators stifled the Hurricanes on the final possession to send the game into overtime.
The teams traded free throws to start the extra period, but Rickards attacked the basket to give Florida a one-point lead midway through overtime. The Hurricanes made the most of its offensive rebounds, with back-to-back second-chance baskets.
Deans gave the Gators a one-point lead with 24 seconds left in overtime after she hit two free throws. Miami had two late chances to tie the game but fell short as Florida extended its winning streak.
Rickards finished the game with 23 points and shot 10-14 from the field. Deans scored six points in overtime to add to her total of 21 points in the game.
The Gators’ next game will be back in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center against UNC Greensboro Sunday at 2 p.m. The game will stream on SEC Network+.
Contact Jackson Reyes at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JacksnReyes.
Jackson Reyes is a third-year journalism major and one of the assistant sports editors for the Spring 2023 semester. In his free time, he enjoys collecting records, long walks on the beach and tweeting about Caleb Williams.