Gators F Ronni Williams was the star of the night as she recorded 20 points and 15 rebounds, good for her seventh double-double of the season.
Williams was all over the place against the Aggies – down low fearlessly grabbing rebounds, rolling off picks and shooting mid-range, you name it.
Unfortunately for Williams, she had to experience the end of the game from the bench as she fouled out with 2:37 remaining. “It was very tough [watching from the bench], but I have a lot of confidence in my teammates and I knew they would pull it out,” Williams said.
Down the stretch, G Simone Westbrook, who scored 11 of her 15 points in the second half, led the Gators with another heart-and-soul performance.
Westbrook tightened up the defense on Aggies’ star G Courtney Walker (31 points) and hit a buzzer-beating three to end the 3rd quarter for a second straight game. "It's something I practice at the end of every practice. I had the ball and a good look at the hoop, and it felt good as I released it,” Westbrook explained.
During the first half, the Gators mostly trailed the Aggies, as they had no answer for Walker and G Chelsea Jennings, who provided huge points off the bench.
Plus, the Gators couldn’t find anyone other than Ronni Williams to lead the offense, but head coach Amanda Butler didn’t feel the need to make drastic adjustments at halftime. “We didn’t have a ton [of second-half adjustments] … we have the best players in the country and, so, the best players in the country are going to make those plays,” Butler said after the game.
In the second half, they certainly did make those plays.
G Eleanna Christinaki scored 9 points after scoring none in the first half. G Dyandria Anderson came off the bench to score 12 points in the game, hitting two big second-half three pointers. F Haley Lorenzen even punched in another solid performance with 10 points and 4 rebounds.
"It's been one of our storylines all year long, and it's exciting. I'm sure it's not exciting for our opponents, however,” said Butler. “From their standpoint, how can you prepare for how the way Dyandria shot the ball tonight? Or how well Simone has played in her past few games as an offensive threat? We're not just a one-headed monster, and we have great belief in one another."
It was another all-around team effort for the gritty Florida squad. They continue to show that they can pull out close games and dictate the pace of play against tough conference opponents.
As fate would have it, the Gators are scheduled to play unbeaten #1 South Carolina next Thursday night. When asked about the upcoming matchup, Coach Butler said, “We get a few days off, but we'll get back to it come Sunday and be ready for South Carolina. It's going to be a great game between two very talented teams within the best league in the country."
Before the season, the Gators were picked to finish 12th in the SEC. After pulling off this many upsets so far, Florida now has its best shot to add the biggest win ever to an already impressive resume.