FAYETTEVILLE — Florida’s women’s basketball team has had trouble winning close games this season. The Gators made sure it wasn’t close Thursday night at Walton Arena.
Florida scored the first nine points of the game, then 10 consecutive to open the second half en route to a 65-51 over the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville women.
The Gators (9-10, 1-5 SEC) were just 3-6 in games decided by 10 points or less, including four of their five SEC losses. But they took control against Arkansas quickly and maintained it throughout to snap a fivegame losing streak.
Arkansas (11-8, 2-4) cut an 18-point second-half deficit to eight on a tip-in by Kiara Williams with 3:18 left in the fourth quarter, but the Razorbacks got no closer.
Arkansas Coach Mike Neighbors said his team’s intensity wasn’t where it needed to be even in preparation for Thursday’s game. That carried over to the game, and Florida took full advantage.
“From the get-go, Florida established that they clearly had a greater sense of urgency than we did, a 9-0 start,” Neighbors said. “And it’s all my fault. I saw it coming a little bit in practice yesterday. We were just blah. I brought it up in the pregame and we were blah. That’s on me to make sure we’re not blah, and we were.
“We played that way for the majority of the game. All due credit to them for playing with a sense of urgency and punching us in the mouth with a 9-0 start. We fought in the fourth quarter and I’m proud of them.”
Florida had three players score 12 or more points, led by Paulina Hersler and Haley Lorenzen, a pair of 6-3 seniors. Hersler led the Gators with a team-high 19 points, while Lorenzen had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Deleicia Washington also had 14 points, including 10 in the second half.
Hersler book-ended Florida’s 10-0 run to start the second half, beginning with a three-pointer. Her layup with 6:43 left in the third quarter gave Florida a 45-28 advantage.
Florida, which led 35-28 at halftime, also dominated the glass, outrebounding Arkansas 54-42.
Point guard Malica Monk did all she could to keep the Razorbacks close, scoring a game-high 23 points to go with a team-high 8 rebounds and 4 assists in 39 minutes. The 5-5 junior was Arkansas’ only player in double figures.
Florida Coach Cameron Newbauer said the Gators have maintained their fight throughout the losing streak and it paid off with the victory. He said he was especially pleased with the Gators’ defense late.
“We got stops and rebounds and had long offensive possessions where shots didn’t go down,” Newbauer said. “But we took [a] lot of time off the clock and forced them to guard and we kept getting stops and rebounds. One thing we’ve talked about lately is our defense can’t be hinging upon our offense.
“The way it worked out tonight with the way we had to fight and finish, I loved it.”
Sports on 01/19/2018
Print Headline: Florida stymies Arkansas