Gators Rebound with Close Win over Washington

The Gators rebounded from their first loss of the season with a solid win against the Washington Huskies on Tuesday night. Nick Calathes led the Gators with 21 points in another closely fought game. The Huskies shot well from the floor, but the Gator defense held its ground in the final minutes to hold onto an 86-84 win in Kansas City.

Last night against Syracuse, the Gators struggled defending the 3-point line in the first half. Again on Tuesday, Washington knocked down three early 3-pointers to open up a seven-point lead. Allan Chaney, who made his first career start in place of Chandler Parsons, continued his solid play, keeping the Gators close. Chaney scored an early six points, and midway through the first half, Florida trailed by only a point, 19-18, despite Washington making six of their first nine shots in the early going.

The Gators put some defensive pressure on the Huskies that helped them to their first lead. At the nine-minute mark, Parsons hit his first 3-pointer of the season, tying the score at 23. Werner then knocked down a 3 a minute later to give Florida a one-point edge, 26-25.

The Gators took advantage of some Washington turnovers late in the first half to spark a 10-2 run. Erving Walker knocked down a pair of 3s and Calathes scored on a nice back door cut. Florida was up seven looking for the final shot of the half, but a turnover led to a Washington fast break bucket as time expired, so the Gators took a 42-37 lead into the locker room.

The Gators were led at the break by two freshmen. Walker had nine and Chaney scored eight. Calathes and Parsons had five apiece followed by Alex Tyus, Walter Hodge and Kenny Kadji who all scored four. Werner had three points.

The Gators gave themselves some breathing room to start the second half. Calathes was able to get to the free throw line a couple of times and also found other ways to score. The sophomore point guard scored nine in the first ten minutes of the second half to stretch the Gator lead to a game-high nine points.

Washington star Jon Brockman score back-to-back buckets to narrow the lead to seven, and then Justin Dentmon hit his fifth 3 of the game with 10:19 left to cut it to four, 65-61.

Florida extended it back to seven after a 3-pointer and a 17-footer from Werner and led 72-65 with 7:39 left. But the Huskies again got back-to-back inside baskets to cut the Gator lead to three, 72-69, with 6:41 to play.

Calathes then took over. He scored four straight points to extend Florida's lead back to seven. After Walker knocked down his fourth 3 of the game, Calathes made two more free throws to give Florida a 10-point lead, 81-71, with four minutes left.

The Huskies didn't go away quietly, though. Washington went on a 10-0 run led by their 5-8 point guard Isaiah Thomas. With 1:00 left, the game was tied at 81 when Billy Donovan called a timeout. The Gator head coach drew up a play for an outside jump shot and Hodge knocked down a 3 from the corner.

Washington had a chance to tie or win down by two with less than ten seconds to play, but the Gators played good defense to escape with the two–point victory.

The Gators improve to 4-1. They face Missouri-Kansas City on Sunday at 1:00 in Orlando.

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