Florida forward Haley Lorenzen called for the ball with just over five minutes left in the game. After setting a screen for a streaking teammate, Lorenzen posted up Alabama’s Ashley Williams, boxing her out beneath the basket before snatching an inlet pass from teammate Delicia Washington with both hands. She raised up for the layup, was fouled by Williams and ultimately landed a pair of late free throws to go up by two.
With 5:21 left in the game, the free throws would be the last scores for Florida (8-7, 0-2 SEC) in an eventual 63-54 loss to Alabama on Thursday night at the O’Connell Center.
Lorenzen’s inside game was a prominent feature in the Gators’ offense against the Crimson Tide. The senior from Iowa City, Iowa, shot 6-of-11 from the field, all of which came from inside layups and jumpers, and led her team with 14 points. Her performance comes one game after putting up just three field goal attempts — a tie for her fewest this season — in Florida’s SEC-opening loss to Auburn.
Lorenzen’s effort wasn’t enough to pull UF out of a five-minute-long slump to end the game that saw the team go 0-for-9 from the field.
Florida’s leading scorer on the season, guard Funda Nakkasoglu, was held in check throughout the game. The redshirt junior, who entered the night averaging 15.9 points per game, finished 4-for-11 from the field for 11 points.
Coach Cameron Newbauer said Alabama (11-4, 1-1 SEC) was intent on keying in on two of the Gators’ top three scorers.
“That’s SEC basketball for you,” Newbauer said. “They’re gonna come take out your best two players, and other people need to step up in order to free them up at some point in the game.”
Newbauer pointed out the continued inconsistencies that have plagued his team from the beginning of the season as reasons for the team’s late collapse. Florida gave up 17 offensive rebounds to the Crimson Tide, tied for the the third most it has allowed in a season in which it’s giving up 13.5 a game.
“It’s the same old, same old,” Newbauer said.
Florida was also turnover-prone against Alabama, giving the ball up 17 times. The Tide made heavy use of full-court presses throughout the night and capitalized on the pressure with 18 points off turnovers.
The Gators will look for their first conference win Sunday afternoon when they take on Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi, at 3 p.m.
When asked how he could keep his team motivated after two tough losses to open conference play, Newbauer said he wasn’t sure what he could do.
“I don’t know the answer to that,” Newbauer said. “We have to fight. We have to have some more personal pride in ourselves as individuals and about the ‘Florida’ on our shirt.”
A radio broadcast contributed to this report.