Gators suffer heartbreaker in the Bahamas

Scoring was a challenge all night for No. 18 Florida, but second chance opportunities were enough to keep the Gators in the game.

With five seconds left, D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera’s jumper served as the dagger that did Florida in. His jumper gave Georgetown a one-point lead that it would hold onto after Eli Carter’s long distance 3-pointer didn’t fall as the buzzer sounded, giving the Hoyas a 66-65 win in overtime.

“We’re getting really hurt in the backcourt with guards just taking our guards,” Billy Donovan said on the Florida postgame radio show. “Angel Rodriguez did it with Miami, Smith-Rivera did it here a couple times. Disappointing loss.”

The Gators held a one-point lead with 11 seconds left to play after sophomore point guard Kasey Hill drove to the rim and made a difficult layup while drawing the foul and hitting the free throw that followed. Hill, who has struggled early this season, had eight points, one assist and three turnovers.

“Kasey got in around the basket by using his speed and drew the foul,” Donovan said. “Great play.”

Hill hit a reverse layup with 2:04 left in regulation to give Florida a 53-51 lead, but Smith-Rivera came back and hit a jumper on the next possession to tie the game at 53 with 1:43 left. Both teams were held scoreless for the rest of regulation, sending the game to overtime.

The shooting struggles for the Gators held the offense back and kept points off the board. Florida shot 35.9 percent from the field and 26.1 percent from behind the 3-point line.

“Ten assists, 16 turnovers, shooting (35.9) percent,” Donovan said. “We don’t work with each other, find each other or defend well enough. Call it like it is -- I’ve got to do a better job as a coach with these guys. We don’t play winning basketball and that’s the problem.”

It’s a common problem Donovan has talked about since the Gators were going through preseason practices. He wondered how an inexperienced group of players would produce while on the court together, and through the first four games of the year, those concerns seem valid.

“As much as I hate to say this, we’re just not hardened enough,” Donovan said. “These guys need to be calloused. I think it’s good to help us grow and mature to learn what winning is all about.

Florida came into the game with injury questions around Carter (foot) and Dorian Finney-Smith (hand). Carter was able to play 33 minutes while Finney-Smith played 28. Carter struggled to do much, going 2-14 from the floor and 1-6 for three. He had six points with four rebounds and three assists.

Finney-Smith was a different story. The junior showed no signs of injury by posting 16 points and six rebounds and blocking one shot. He followed a missed shot in the first half with a dunk to energize the Florida team.

Florida center Jon Horford had 10 points, 11 rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block.

The Gators moves into the losers’ bracket and will play UAB on Thursday at 9:30 p.m. The game will be televised on AXS TV.

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