When Florida’s women’s basketball team faced Wake Forest in the second round of the West Palm Beach Invitational, its top-four scorers: guards Lavender Briggs, Kiara Smith and Kristina Moore as well as forward Zada Williams got plenty of buckets. And they scored at an efficient pace -- all four combined to shoot 57 percent from the field.
But it was not enough.
The Demon Deacons toppled the Gators 73-68 and sent Florida home. UF will not play until after Christmas on Dec. 29.
Wake Forest barely (7-4) squeaked out an edge by the time the first quarter buzzer sounded. It was 24-21.
And come back was what the Gators did. Guard Lavender Briggs shot at a scorching pace in the first half, shooting 8 for 12 from the field and 3 for 5 from three to collect 19 points by the end of the half. Briggs herself had as many points in the first half as Wake Forest’s entire team had in the second quarter. It was enough to give UF (8-4) the lead, 45-43.
But in the second half, Briggs, as well as the Gators, cooled off dramatically. She was only 2 for 8 from the field in the second half. But more importantly, she was 0 for 4 from three. Briggs typically plays inside-out basketball. As she hits a few threes early to force the defense to play way up, she can then blow by them and develop an inside game off the dribble. So when she went cold in the second half, not only did her outside game suffer, but her inside game as well.
Behind Briggs, the rest of the double-digit scorers: Smith, Moore and Williams also had weaker second halves.
Not to the drastic effect of Briggs, but Smith, Moore and Williams all scored less in the second half than the first with the same amount of minutes. This resulted in a Demon Deacon response. Wake Forest dominated the third quarter 22-13 to go up 65-58.
Outside of those four scorers, freshman guard Brylee Bartram had nine points off 3-of-9 shooting from the field and 3 for 8 from three. But nobody other than Bartram and the four double-digit players scored more than two points.
A close, yet low-scoring 10-8 fourth quarter put the game to rest. The final of 73-68, but it was really a game of dramatic runs that balanced out to a competitive final score.
Contact Graham Marsh at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @GrahamMarshUF.