Things were looking grim for Florida’s women’s basketball team heading into the fourth quarter on Thursday night.
Prairie View A&M’s 17-point third quarter behind 50 percent (7-of-14) shooting from the field and 60 percent (3-of-5) shooting from behind the arc had UF trailing by seven with 10 minutes remaining in the game.
But the Gators dropped 18 points in the final quarter while limiting the Panthers to just four, as they came away with a 51-44 victory at the William Nicks Building in Prairie View, Texas.
Forward Kennedy Paul stood out for Prairie View A&M (2-6) from the opening tip.
She canned a three-pointer in the first minute and sunk a free throw at the 7:57 mark to give the Panthers an early 4-0 lead.
The Gators (6-2) tied the game at 4-4 with baskets from guard Nina Rickards and Lavender Briggs. However, Florida didn’t find the bottom of the net for more than three minutes after that. Prairie View A&M, meanwhile, scored six straight points in that span.
UF forward Zada Williams ended the scoring drought on a put back following guard Ariel Johnson’s missed layup.
Four turnovers and 5-of-14 shooting from the field had the Gators down 15-11 at the end of the first quarter.
Williams continued to make her presence felt down low in the second quarter.
The redshirt senior converted a couple of layups and finished with eight points in the second half on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting from the floor. By the end of the half, Florida had 14 points in the paint to the Panthers’ 10, which helped UF take a 24-23 lead heading into the break.
UF struggled offensively in the third quarter, though.
Briggs (6) and guard Brylee Bartram (3) were the team’s only scorers, as Prairie View A&M dropped 17 points to take a 40-33 advantage into the last quarter.
Yet it was the Gators that clinched their sixth victory of the season thanks to a dominant fourth quarter.
Williams and Briggs paced the offense with 16 and 15 points, respectively, with Florida’s leading scorer -- guard Kiara Smith (13.7 points per game) -- managing just three points in the contest.
Contact Bryan Matamoros at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @bryan_2712.