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Monday, May 20, 2024

Gators dominate Winthrop in final non-conference game of 2023-24 season

Florida shot 51.9% from the field while holding the Eagles to 27.7%

Junior guard Alberte Rimdal attempts a jump shot in the Gators' 79-75 loss to the Florida State Seminoles on Friday, Nov. 17, 2023.
Junior guard Alberte Rimdal attempts a jump shot in the Gators' 79-75 loss to the Florida State Seminoles on Friday, Nov. 17, 2023.

With the new year right around the corner, the Florida Gators women’s basketball team ended their 2023 with plenty of fireworks. 

In their final non-conference game of the 2023-24 season, Florida put together one of their strongest offensive performances to date. The Gators shot 51.9% from the field and 31.6% from three-point range while only committing 16 turnovers as a team. The Eagles converted on 27.7% of their attempts from the field, including an 1-for-10 from three, and gave up 25 turnovers.

Senior guard Leilani Correa had quite an efficient day for UF, cashing in with 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting. Senior guard Aaliyah Matharu chipped in with 12 points of her own, while senior center Ra Shaya Kyle pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds. Junior guard Jeriah Warren also racked up four steals, all of which came in the first half. 

The Gators (8-3) dismantled the Winthrop Eagles (6-7) in a 73-36 blowout victory on Saturday afternoon. Winthrop kept the game close early on in the first quarter, but the Gators went on cruise control soon after to finish the game off.

In the first quarter, the Eagles appeared poised to give the Gators a run for their money. Within the first five minutes, Winthrop never trailed by more than five points, only trailing by an 11-9 margin at one point. Nevertheless, Florida remained unfazed, going on a 9-0 run to jump back out to a double-digit lead.

From there, Winthrop could not respond. After junior guard Jada Ryce drilled a jump shot to temporarily halt Florida’s run, the Eagles failed to score another basket for eight minutes and 23 seconds. The Gators took full advantage of this offensive dryspell and extended their lead to 43-13 during this span. 

Even after the Eagles managed to get back onto the scoreboard, they still could not keep up with the Gators. Florida closed out the final four minutes of the half on a 9-4 run to take a 50-15 lead into the half. Matharu led at the half with 10 points on 4-for-9 shooting, while Kyle tallied up five boards.

Florida’s offense significantly slowed down in the second half, as head coach Kelly Rae Finley took her foot off the gas pedal with the game already all but decided. The Gators outscored the Eagles 12-3 the first seven minutes of the third quarter. In the final three minutes, Winthrop chipped in with only four points, while Florida went scoreless.

The fourth quarter proved to be more of the same, with both offenses stalling out as the game went on. After a quick jumper from UF junior guard Alberte Rimdal and a three from Warren, neither squad scored for over three consecutive minutes. 

Additionally, Winthrop knocked in their only field goal of the fourth quarter in the final minute of play, with nine of their 11 points in the period coming off of free throws. The Eagles also committed six turnovers in the fourth quarter, which all but sealed their doom in this one.

Florida moves to 9-3 on the season as they turn their attention to their in-conference slate of the schedule. 

The Gators will return to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center on Jan. 4, where they will play host to the undefeated No. 1 South Carolina Gamecocks at 7 p.m. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.

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Jack Meyer

Jack Meyer is a third-year journalism major and a sports reporter for The Alligator. In his free time, he enjoys running, spending time with friends, playing video games, and watching the Miami Heat and Miami Dolphins.

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