Zada Williams

Despite trailing by seven two times in the first half, Florida’s women’s basketball team found itself up 40-34 at halftime against Vanderbilt on Sunday.

The Gators seized control midway through the second quarter, finding an outside stroke from guard Lavender Briggs that became a game-high 19 points as UF went on to win 68-60.

Florida needed this game to gather momentum while Vandy needed to continue it. The matchup came after a brutal 93-47 loss to No. 15 Mississippi State in Starkville, Mississippi, for the Gators. It also followed a 77-55 Vanderbilt victory over Auburn.

Vanderbilt (11-4, 1-1 SEC) quickly ballooned the lead to seven with a little over seven minutes to play in the second quarter, largely behind the efforts of guard Chelsie Hall, who led her team in scoring in the first half with nine. However, a UF (10-5, 1-1 SEC) run just one minute later, capped by an inside bucket from forward Zada Williams and another Smith layup the next possession, gave UF a 29-27 lead and major momentum.

Offensively everything threaded together for Florida. The outside shooting started to fall after starting 1 of 5 from beyond the arc. Then after Vandy began to suffocate shooters, Williams had room inside to work. After a scoreless first quarter, she finished the game with 10 points at a 63 percent clip.

“If it’s meant for me to score, I will,” Williams said. “Just staying steady knowing not to rush anything.”

But early in the fourth quarter, Vandy made a run. Commodore forward Koi Love led the resurgence with 19 points, most of those coming in the second half. However, a Smith three, a Williams steal and a Vanderbilt travel got the Gators back up to a sizeable 61-54 advantage with under two minutes to play.

That ultimately iced the game, giving Florida an enormous SEC win to bounce back from the loss in Starkville.

“Happy to get this win at home and be 1-1 in the SEC,” coach Cam Newbauer said.

Follow Graham on Twitter @GrahamMarshUF and contact him at [email protected]