UF women's basketball team opens with easy win

Special to Gatorsports.com
Florida guard Kiara Smith flies in for a layup in the first quarter of the season opener Wednesday against Grambling State at Exactech Arena at O'Connell Center. Smith led the Gators with a game-high 20 points in the 90-47 UF win.

The Florida women's basketball team tipped off its season with a convincing win Wednesday, dispatching Grambling State 90-47 at Exactech Arena.

 Florida's 43-point win was its largest in a season opener since 2002 and its 90 points scored were its most in a season opener since 2013.

Tipping off their season on the latest date in calendar since 1994, it was worth the wait for the Gators who pulled away from the Tigers with a balanced offensive attack. All 10 players to appear in the game scored and six players finished with eight or more points. There weren't any signs of rust shown from the home team, as Florida connected on 50 percent of its field goal tries (29-of-58) and 42.9 percent of its attempts from distance (9-of-21).

"Just want to thank our administration, the Southeastern Conference and all the health care providers and professionals for what they have done in order to create a safe environment for us to compete," UF coach Cam Newbauer said. "It has been a long time since we have been out there and I think everyone could see the energy and enthusiasm of our players to be able to out there. I appreciate what our community is doing as well in order to abide by certain protocols that they need to mitigate the risk. Could not be more thankful to be here today competing."

Redshirt senior guard Kiki Smith paced the Gators with 20 points, 11 rebounds and three assists. Preseason All-SEC selection Lavender Briggs, scoring in double figures for the 27th time in her career, came through for 13 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. Smith scored the game's first basket, a left-handed floater that would set the tone for the rest of the game. Florida would never trail in the game and held the lead for 39:44.

For Briggs it was her eighth career double-double, while Smith's was her third.

When the teams met 386 days ago at Grambling State, Florida battled to a 72-65 win and trailed going in to the fourth quarter. Wednesday afternoon was a different story. That was apparent from the first few minutes of play.

After only scoring 10 points in the first quarter of last season's matchup, Florida tallied 23 in this season's showdown and notched a 13-point advantage by the stanza's end.

Playing in an organized game for the first time in 629 days, redshirt senior guard Danielle Rainey exploded for 18 points off the bench.

The Gators return to the court at noon Sunday at Florida State.