ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Florida women’s basketball put on an impressive defensive performance to overcome a slow night of shooting, defeating Green Bay at St. Pete Showcase, 6, 1-52.
The Gators (5-1, 0-0 SEC) forced Green Bay (2-2, 0-0 Horizon) to 22 turnovers, resulting in 11 steals, giving them an 18-9 advantage in turnovers. KK deans led with four steals for UF while Leilani Correa added three.
Correa was again the offensive spark, leading all scorers with 20 points from the bench. Jordan Merritt 17, including a career-best eight free throws, contributed Nina Rickards (11) and believe Dut (10) each exceeding the two-digit threshold. For the game, Florida shot 18 of 59 (30.5%) from field and 6 of 23 (26.1%) from deep. The Phoenix finished 20 of 56 (35.7%) from the ground and 6 of 26 (23.1%) from three-point reach.
Green Bay managed to control the glass on Thursday and overtake the Gators 41-40. Merritt and Rickards each pulled seven down to speed up the Orange & Blue while 17 of Florida’s rebounds were on the offensive end.
The Phoenix were led by Calle Genke with 10 points and six rebounds.
A major reason for the Gators’ win in the first game of the St. Pete Showcase was at the free-throw line, where UF finished 19 of 27 (70.4%) compared to Green Bay’s 6 of 6.
The Gators opened the game with the first four points behind a jumper by Rickards and two free throws by Dut, but Green Bay’s physicality began to push the Gators. The Phoenix put together an 11-0 run in the next 7:30 to take an 11-4 lead, but Correa gave the Orange-Blues momentum off the bench right at the end of the quarter, converting a one-shot to bring it to 11 -7 past one.
Green Bay held off Florida in the opening stages with just 2 of 16 shootouts.
Florida returned in the second quarter to level the game at 6:41 at 3 p.m. after an impressive up-and-down layup by Rickards. The game was tied again at 17, but another spurt from Phoenix, this time 12-0, extended their lead to 29-17, with 3:44 to go at halftime.
The Gators didn’t lie down, however, and responded with a 9-0 run of their own capped by a dut-tip-in layup on the buzzer to end the quarter and reduce Green Bay’s lead to 29-26 halftime. Correa ended the half with 12 points for Orange & Blue.
It was a back-and-forth in the third quarter, with each team taking turns trading shots. Merritt leveled the game at 29 within the first minute, but the Phoenix responded again with a 5-0 run to reclaim the lead. The Phoenix maintained a six-point lead with 5:50 to go before Correa slammed down a three and followed up with two free throws from Rickards to close the gap to one point again. The opposition lead hovered at one point with less than a minute left before a Green Bay layup gave them a 44-41 lead with 10 minutes to go.
With eight minutes to go, Green Bay was clinging to a three-point lead and beginning to feel the pressure from the Florida zone. The Phoenix, with 6:31 on the clock, then left Dut wide open in the corner of an inbound pass, and the senior lost her second treble of the game to give the Gators a 51-49 advantage.
After the score once again stood at 52 points, the Gators secured victory at the free-throw line and finished the game on a 9-0 run, with seven of those points coming to the charity streak. After Florida zoned in the second half, Florida held Green Bay on 9 of 25 (36%) shots in the last 20 minutes.
The Gators will be back in action for the second game of the St. Pete Showcase on Saturday, November 26 against Houston at 12:00 p.m. ET.
head coach Kelly Rae Finley
Fighting back after a slow start…
“That game was really important for our growth as a team. It was a really well-trained side, Green Bay are a tournament side throughout. They’re really hard to beat. It takes a lot of consistency, a lot of mental toughness, a lot of physical strength and balance and 1 To make it 13 out of three I thought those were all good shots we’re making. Because we’re a neutral sight and doing as well as we are, we showed the resilience that we had, I’m really proud.”
– Florida now leads the all-time streak with Green Bay 3-0.
– Jordan Merritt scored a season-high 17 points, helped by eight career bests at the free-throw line.
– Dut’s two trebles equal a career high by Texas A&M on January 3, 2021
– Florida now has four goalscorers in double digits in six straight games, the last time being before the 1998-99 season.
– The Gators have forced 20 or more turnovers in five of their first six games, the first time they’ve started this well on defense since 2015-16.
– The Gators are now 17-0 under Kelly Rae Finley when keeping opponents below 60 points.
– #GoGators –