UF women's basketball team wins fifth in row

Special to Gatorsports.com

The Florida women's basketball team won its fifth consecutive game as it downed Tarleton State 84-52 on Monday at the O'Connell Center.

The Gators move to 6-1 for the first time since the 2016-17 season and they are off to their best start under fourth-year head coach Cam Newbauer.

Paced by sophomore guard Lavender Briggs' 20 points, the Gators took it to the Texans, shooting a crisp 48.6 percent from the floor. UF, scoring over 80 points for the fourth time this season, also received significant contributions from senior Kiki Smith, who tallied 13 points, five rebounds and five assists and Nina Rickards, who established a career high with 17 rebounds along with nine points.  

Rickards' 17 rebounds were the most collected in a game for a Florida player since Zada Williams corralled 19 against FAMU last season.

"First and foremost, I encourage everyone to keep thinking of Keyontae Johnson and his family. Keep him in your thoughts and prayers, such a great young man and an amazing family, as he continues to recover," Newbauer said. "Just one of these tough games, coming and playing after his accident the other day was going to be tough emotionally for our team. We're close with him and he is a guy that brings so many of the men's players to our games. So, just wishing him a speedy recovery and thinking of him always.

"And you know, for our players just to battle through finals week and the COVID mental adversity, and then the recent happenings with Key. We didn't have the best energy we wanted all game long and we knew we had to try to create some energy to get it going, be where we wanted to be. Had some spurts, had some really good moments, and we just know we got to keep growing and keep improving. And I think we did that today in a number of areas."

Nine different players scored six or more points and the Gators recorded a season-best 53 rebounds. After registering a season-best 44 points in the paint last game at UNC Asheville, the Gators were at it again Monday, tallying 42 to go with 21 second chance points.

Extending their record to 5-0 at home for the first time since the beginning of the 2015-16 campaign, UF was dominant in the win, leading for over 39 minutes and by as many as 37.

The Gators next play Dec. 21 when they host North Florida starting at 2 p.m.