Florida overpowers North Florida in women's basketball non-conference finale
The Florida women's basketball team overpowered North Florida, 89-64, Monday at the O'Connell Center for its sixth consecutive win.
Florida (7-1) finishes the non-conference schedule with its best winning percentage (.875) in five years.
"We knew they were going to be a challenge for us defensively with how many 3s they like to shoot and make," UF coach Cam Newbauer said. "Didn't necessarily like that we gave up 20 (points) in the third and fourth, but we adjusted well to what we were doing defensively and took advantage."
The Gators came out hot, scoring a season-best 31 first quarter points, and never looked back as they extended their record to 6-0 at home. Led by a fast-paced and versatile offense, the Gators featured five double-figure scorers, led by sophomore standout Lavender Briggs and newcomer Jordyn Merritt, who added 15 points apiece. For Briggs, it was the All-SEC talent's 33rd time scoring in double figures in her career while it was the rookie Merritt's first and a new career high for the talented Texan.
Also scoring in double figures was junior Kristina Moore, who tied her career best with 12, super sub Danielle Rainey, who poured in 14 and senior point guard Kiki Smith. Smith finished just shy of a double-double with 11 points and nine boards while Briggs made a run at a triple-double with eight rebounds and a season-high seven assists to go with her team-high 15.
Battling the Ospreys' (2-5) zone defense, the Gators dominated the rebounding category, hauling in a season-best 61 including 31 on the offensive end alone. Sophomore Nina Rickards accounted for 15 of those rebounds as the physical guard followed up the career-high 17 she snatched last time out against Tarleton State. The New York native was particularly relentless on the offensive end, corralling 11 offensive rebounds.
Florida opens SEC play Dec. 31 at Vanderbilt. Florida has picked up five consecutive wins against Vanderbilt, its longest active streak against any SEC opponent.