It was the final quarter, and UF freshman guard Laila Reynolds stood at the free throw line.
Despite the heavy lead Florida sat on, Reynolds looked to tally extra points toward the win. She focused and shot as she aimed to improve her free throw record. Both shots went missed but that didn’t slow her down.
She claimed the offensive rebound and slammed a layup against a series of Rattler defenders to make the Florida lead 90-54.
The Gators would take the game with a 38-point win.
“I would say it’s a good team win,” Reynolds said. “But I don’t think I could do it without my teammates. Just to be able to have four assists, that’s what really gets me going.”
The Florida Gators (3-0) defeated the Florida A&M Rattlers (0-3) 92-54 Monday night in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
Florida fell prey to turnovers in the opening quarter and took and trailed 6-3 early. Reynolds stole the ball and on the fast break slammed a layup to take the lead, 12-9.
Gators senior guard Aliyah Matharu made her first 3-pointer of the night to keep UF up by four points. Senior center Ra Shaya Kyle capitalized on a failed Rattlers’ layup and caught the defensive rebound. She passed to Matharu who brought home the shot and made the score 17-11.
Senior guard Leilani Correa made the final Florida shot of the quarter with a 3-point jumper after another defensive rebound from Kyle.
The closing 1:35 of the first frame went scoreless from both teams with a series of missed 3-pointers by Matharu and numerous turnovers on Florida’s end. UF ended the first quarter with a 13-7 lead.
Reynolds hit her second layup of the night to tally Florida’s first points in the second quarter. The Gators’ momentum shined midway in the quarter when they held a 9-0 scoring run in 2:37 to double FAMU’s score.
Rattlers graduate student guard Ahriahna Grizzle ended Florida’s heat when she hit a swift layup against a pool of Gators defenders. Junior forward Eriny Kindred extended UF’s lead to 21 points on two successful personal foul free throws.
In the final 30 seconds of the first half FAMU senior guard Ivet Subirats hit a wide-open 3-point jumper but Matharu matched the score with her own 3-pointer.
Florida entered the halftime with a comfortable 22-point lead at 48-26.
Subirats claimed the first shot of the second half when Matharu blocked the net a second early to offer FAMU an open layup. Kyle scored five-consecutive points on two layups and a free throw for the Gators to make the score 61-35.
Graduate student guard Kenza Salgues fouled Florida A&M guard Nashani Gilbert to award her two points on free throws. The Rattlers hit 7-12 on free throws and Florida shot 9-11 on free throws in the third quarter.
Correa hit her third 3-pointer of the night assisted by Matharu, and Kyle sealed the third quarter with a 29-point lead with a final layup in the last 30-seconds of the quarter.
Florida held the lead 69-40 going into the fourth quarter.
Salgues opened the last quarter with her first shot of the night. Florida senior guard Zippy Broughton caught a defensive rebound and passed to Salgues who hit the 3-pointer to make the score 75-47.
FAMU hit a dry rut in the middle of the final quarter and went 4:55 scoreless while Florida took a 30-point lead. The Gators responded with a seven-point scoring streak in the time highlighted by two free throws by Florida junior guard Jeriah Warren.
“I was proud of the effort on both ends of the floor,” head coach Kelly Rae Finley said. “And then wear your opponent down both on the offensive and defensive end of the floor because of our depth.”
Reynolds hit two back-to-back layups to extend Florida’s lead to 85-50. FAMU recorded two more points off a personal foul committed by Kyle but the scoring deficit held them to a loss.
Finley expanded on the partnership between Matharu and Reynolds.
“We challenge Aliyah to push Laila’s pace,” she said. “Laila is extremely talented but what sets her apart is her humble work ethic.”
Florida took the game and final quarter 92-54.
The Florida Gators will play their in-state rival, the Florida State Seminoles, at 4 p.m. Friday in the Stephen C. O'Connell Center. The game can be streamed on SEC Network+.
Contact Krisha Sanghavi at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @krishasang.
Krisha Sanghavi is a third-year public relations and economics major. In her free time, she loves cheering on Miami sports teams and spending time with her friends.