BASKETBALL

Women's basketball: Gators push the pace, blow by Presbyterian 78-52

Ainslie Lee
The Gainesville Sun

The Florida Gators' women's basketball team hit its 10-game mark when the Presbyterian Blue Hose (3-6) visited Billy Donovan Court at Exactech Arena on Tuesday night.

Florida (9-1) went on to cruise by Presbyterian 78-52 as three Gators scored in double figures with senior KK Deans (18 points), sophomore Alberte Rimdal (17) and junior Ra Shaya Kyle (12) leading the way.

The Gators are three games away from their SEC opener against Tennessee on Dec. 29.

But before then, Florida travels to Miami for an all-state showdown on Sunday, followed by a home matchup with UNC-Greensboro on Dec. 18 and a battle with Oklahoma in the Jumpman Invitational on Dec. 21.

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"Our attention to detail down the stretch and our execution borders on being elite," Florida head coach Kelly Rae Finley said. "The key for us is being able to sustain that and play for four quarters in that way. I think we're growing. I think we're definitely improving."

Here are three takeaways from Florida's victory.

KK Deans becoming a staple for Florida

Folks familiar with West Virginia women's basketball wouldn't be surprised if you told them Deans was making noise in her senior campaign with the Gators. However, those same folks might be surprised to hear the former Mountaineers' standout is having so much success so soon.

Before transferring to Florida, Deans averaged a team-best 15.4 points per game for the Mountaineers during her junior season, which ended just 18 games in when she suffered an ACL tear on Jan. 29, 2022.

"I don't think that we understand quite that she's coming back from an injury," Finley said of Deans. "A very serious one."

And to be fair, after a night like Tuesday, Deans makes it easy to forget she spent the start of this year sidelined.

Deans led Florida's scoring efforts against Presbyterian, which included a 4-for-5 performance from the three-point line.

And with senior Leilani Correa, who is the Gators' leading scorer, unavailable on Tuesday for unknown reasons and listed as day-to-day, Florida needed someone to step up.

"I'm really proud in the growth that she's had in the last couple of weeks," Finley said of Deans. "That was reflected in the plus-minus tonight."

Florida finished +27 when Deans was on the floor Tuesday.

Pushing the pace pays off for Gators

With Deans piloting the attack, Florida not only scored often against Presbyterian, but the Gators also scored quickly.

The Gators' offense pushed the ball up the floor with purpose, which is something Finley said she and the team had emphasized coming into the midweek tilt.

"Playing with pace is one of our strengths," Deans said. "We really do well in transition. Our guards get out, our post run their lanes ... We don't have to run a set every time and that's what's makes us really strong.

Florida scored 12 fast-break points against Presbyterian, which was double what the Blue Hose produced on its side of the floor.

Florida cleans up play against Presbyterian

Coming into Tuesday's matchup, the Gators had not been great at controlling the basketball.

In its last three times out, Florida committed an average of 22.3 turnovers per contest.

However, against the Blue Hose, the Gators coughed up possession 11 times, while Presbyterian turned the ball over 21 times.

"What we've been talking about is being more consistent and being more purposeful in our offensive execution and understanding the value of a possession," Finley said. "So it might've been one of our lower turnover games ... I'm really pleased with that."

Florida's 11 turnovers Tuesday night were the fewest they've committed this season.