Hot shooting night lifts Gators to 77-50 win over Furman: 'They all have the green light'

Ainslie Lee
Gator Sports

While Monday marked the start of a short, holiday week for most of us, the Florida Gators' women's basketball team was just getting its week started when it welcomed the Furman Paladins to Billy Donovan Court at Exactech Arena. 

And with a pair of games left to play this week, including a matchup with Green Bay on Thanksgiving Day, the Gators got off on the right footing as they topped the Paladins 77-50, putting them at 4-1 on the season. 

This will be the second week in a row that Florida has suited up for three games. 

"It's really difficult and not a lot of teams do that," Florida head coach Kelly Rae Finley said of the Gators' front-heavy schedule. "We're going to be better because of this stretch."

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But before looking ahead to Florida's remaining matchups this week, here are takeaways from Florida's win over Furman. 

Brilliant shooting performance lifts Gators

The Paladins came out swinging, leading by as many as six in the opening quarter. But once the Gators took the lead with a pair of free throws from Ra Shaya Kyle five minutes into the contest, they never looked back. 

Catalyzing Florida's offensewas the three ball, with sophomore Alberte Rimdal getting the party started with a pair of deep shots early in the first period.

Meanwhile, it was senior Leilani Correa who kept the party going with back-to-back downtown makes to close out the first quarter. 

But that was just the start for Florida's offense, which shot 46% from the field — the Gators' second-best mark of the season, coming only second to their performance against Bethune-Cookman, when they shot 52%. 

However, the Gators' 10 shots from beyond the arc was a season-high, with Rimdal leading the way with four makes. 

"They all have the green light," Finley said of the Gators' shots from beyond the three-point line. 

Rimdal's performance from downtown helped lift her to a team-high 19 points, while Correa finished with 17. Senior Nina Rickards and Kyle also finished with double digits, scoring 15 and 12, respectively. 

Ocala Native Sydney James stars for Furman

For Furman junior Sydney James, Monday's game in Gainesville served as a return to the North Central Florida area. 

James, who split her high school career at Ocala's Trinity Catholic and West Port, took Billy Donovan Court with a nice entourage of family and friends in the stands. And though James didn't find the basket in the Paladins' loss to the Gators, she did just about everything else for Furman. 

Starting at small forward for the Paladins, James was on the floor for 34 of the game's 40 minutes. 

In that time, James grabbed a team-leading 10 rebounds. 

Leading Furman's scoring efforts was redshirt freshman Jaelyn Acker, who tallied 15, including a pair of three pointers. 

Florida sets the tone with disruptive defense

Atypical to most press conferences, Finley allowed Rimdal to make opening remarks on the win. 

And though Rimdal led the team in scoring, the sophomore guard wasn't interested in talking about her offense. Instead, she went a different route. 

"We played together today," Rimdal said. "We played with a lot of intensity on the defensive end. And I feel like when we put pressure on the defense, it gives us the offense ... it comes easier."

Furman's 50 points were the second-fewest the Gators have allowed this season, following the 40 points given up to UNC-Asheville. 

Florida forced the Paladins into 24 turnovers, leading to 25 points. The Gators also tallied 16 steals and eight blocks. 

"Our job is to stop the ball from going in the basket," Finley said. "As silly as that sounds, that's the name of the game. The team that scores more or stops more wins the game. And to not get away from that and to really stay focused on that on both ends of the floor is fun to coach."

The Gators return to action on Thursday at 3 p.m. when they take on the Green Bay Phoenix at the St. Pete Showcase.