Eighteen points in five minutes.
When Florida’s women’s basketball team faced No. 21 Arkansas on the road Sunday, the Razorbacks concluded the first quarter on an 18-2 run. It put them up 26-13, and ultimately propelled Arkansas over the Gators at Bud Walton Arena 79-57.
It became obvious during that first-quarter spurt, but UF’s inability to keep up with Arkansas’ speed up and down the court killed any chances the Gators had of staying competitive in the game. Razorbacks guard A’Tyanna Gaulden consistently pushed the ball up the floor every time Florida missed a field goal or turned it over. She facilitated the Razorbacks’ track-style offense, leading the game with five assists in just 17 minutes of action.
“Offensively, we got some good looks, but they just didn't go down,” coach Cam Newbauer said. “We kept fighting the whole way through, and I don't think the score is indicative of that at all.”
Unsurprisingly, the best Gator throughout the contest was guard Lavender Briggs. The freshman continued her impressive freshman campaign with 17 points, leading Florida in scoring as she often does.
However, the lack of scoring elsewhere hurt Florida. Guard Kiara Smith was the only other Gator in double figures with 10, but it was at an inefficient clip as she was 4 for 13 from the field and 1 for 5 from behind the three-point line.
Going into this game, a key ingredient for UF (11-9, 2-5 SEC) to steal a victory on the road was the inside game as Arkansas does not have a player taller than 6-foot-3. Arkansas (16-4, 4-3 SEC) scores at a high volume, averaging 85.3 points per game heading into Sunday, but the bulk of that comes from guards like senior guard Alexis Tolefree, who averages 14.4 points per game.
That was no different against Florida, as three of its top four scorers were guards. The Razorbacks dominated the Gators in the paint, 44-28, but that was mostly due to unguarded fast-break points (25), not low-post scoring.
UF’s main inside presence, forward Zada Williams, finished the game with just four points, on just three shots in 20 minutes of action.
It seemed that Florida tried to participate in the shootout with the Razorbacks, attempting one more three than they did with 21. However, the Gators only made half of what Arkansas did, as Florida shot 4 of 21 from beyond the arc to the Razorbacks 8 of 20.
Florida also turned the ball over too often to avoid a track meet with speedy Arkansas. UF only turned it over 16 times to Arkansas’ 14, but the Razorbacks are built for that type of turnover-heavy game. Arkansas converted the Gators’ turnovers to 22 points while Florida only converted its opportunities to six.
A Gators team that started the season 4-0 is now on a four-game losing streak, all in the SEC.
“It's been a tough stretch for us where we are in our schedule, and we just have to keep fighting,” Newbauer said. “We just have to believe, keep fighting and keep going.”
Follow Graham Marsh on Twitter @GrahamMarshUF. Contact him at [email protected].