Florida came out of the gates on fire in its Sunday afternoon matchup against Louisiana State University.
The Gators shot an efficient 9-17 and were able to match the Tigers’ energy in the first quarter. Florida has made a habit of starting off slow shooting the basketball this season. However, the Gators came out connecting early and often against LSU, going shot-for-shot.
“I want us to play fast. I want us to play both sides of the ball,” Florida Head Coach Kelly Rae Finley said. “Because of some of our injuries and such throughout the course of the season, we haven’t really been able to be consistent with that.”
Despite the hot shooting early, the Gators weren’t able to keep pace with the top-five Tigers.
The Florida Gators (14-13, 3-11 SEC) fell to the No. 5 LSU Tigers (25-1, 13-1 SEC) 90-79 Sunday, dropping their fifth-straight game. The loss comes after Florida fell to No. 1-ranked South Carolina Thursday, in what is the team's toughest stretch of their schedule.
“Both are extremely successful in building their programs,” Finley said. “That’s something we’re striving to do in our own way here at the University of Florida.”
Florida senior guard KK Deans led the way for the Gators offensively. She matched her career-high of 30 points and added on five assists. Deans shot 5-11 from 3-point range, which was a big factor in her scoring explosion.
The Gators struggled to contain LSU star sophomore forward Angel Reese, who posted a double-double by halftime. Reese finished with 25 points to go along with 16 rebounds.
Florida junior forward Jordyn Merritt caught a bullet pass from senior Gators guard Nina Rickards and made the layup to open the scoring for Florida.
Junior Gators center Ra Shaya Kyle grabbed an offensive rebound and finished a tough layup. Deans followed the play with a pull-up mid-range shot on the next Florida possession.
Rickards hit a catch-and-shoot mid-range shot. Deans drilled her second 3-pointer of the game on the following possession. She then received an outlet pass and finished a fast break layup through a foul after an LSU turnover.
Louisiana State responded to Florida’s hot start with an 8-0 run. Reese hit a fast-break layup through a foul to cap off the run.
Kyle drilled a mid-range shot to tie the game at 15.
Graduate student guard Jasmine Carson hit a spot-up 3-pointer to put the Tigers up by three. Florida freshman guard Myka Perry euro-stepped through the defense and made a layup on the Gators’ ensuing possession.
LSU sophomore guard Last-Tear Poa hit a contested layup through a foul and converted the three-point play. Reese came up with the ball after a Florida turnover and finished the fast break herself with a layup.
Senior Gators forward Faith Dut knocked down a 3-pointer for the final points of the first quarter.
Poa nailed a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer to open the second quarter. Reese drove hard to the basket and finished a tough layup through contact.
Carson hit a 3-point shot off a Reese assist to put the Tigers up 37-23. Dut ended Florida’s scoring drought with a layup as the shot clock expired.
Deans drove to the basket and finished the layup following a Florida steal. Carson answered with her fourth and fifth 3-pointers of the first half on LSU’s next two possessions.
Rickards nailed a hook shot over her defender for the final Florida points of the first half. The Gators trailed at halftime 47-31.
Sophomore Gators guard Alberte Rimdal drilled a corner three to open the second half.
Both teams entered a shooting slump to start the third quarter. LSU shot 0-5 in the first four minutes of the quarter, while Florida shot 1-8.
Merritt made a fast-break layup to end the Gators’ shooting woes. Rickards grabbed an offensive rebound and hit a heavily contested reverse layup on the following possession to cut the deficit to nine.
Deans found Merritt with a pass, and the junior forward banked in a layup. Graduate student Tigers forward LaDazhia Williams hit a layup for LSU’s first field goal of the second half after nearly seven minutes without a basket.
Carson nailed a 3-pointer to put the Tigers up 54-44. Deans responded with a layup through a foul and converted the 3-point play.
Deans hit a corner triple to cut Florida’s deficit to seven. Sophomore LSU guard Kateri Poole finished a contested layup over her defender to end the third quarter.
Williams made a quick layup to open the final quarter. Deans hit another 3-pointer on the following Florida possession.
Dut finished a tough layup inside off a feed from Deans. Reese banked in a layup after Florida turned the ball over. She then finished a put-back layup after snagging an offensive rebound.
Dut hit a mid-range shot from the corner to cut Florida’s deficit to 14 points. Freshman Tigers guard Flau’jae Johnson answered with a spot-up 3-pointer.
Sophomore Gators guard Jeriah Warren responded with a triple of her own on the next possession.
Carson and Deans traded three’s on back-to-back possessions late in the fourth quarter. Merrit came up with a steal and hit the open pull-up jumper to cut the deficit to 14.
Deans hit a late 3-pointer for her fifth of the game. Sophomore Gators forward Paige Clausen made a layup for the final points of the game. Florida fell to LSU 90-79.
Florida will next play Alabama at 6 p.m. Thursday back in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The game will be streamed on SEC Network+.
Contact Austin Stirling at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @austinstirlingg.
Austin Stirling is a third-year journalism major and sports reporter for The Alligator. He previously covered Gators women's basketball and is primarily covering soccer during the fall 2023 semester. He is a huge New York sports fan and is hoping the Jets can be a respectable football team for once in his life this season.