Gators Out Muscle Mercer, Grab 70-51 Win

Box Score  | Highlights Postgame Press Conference

Redshirt-junior guard Kiki Smith posted her second career double-double with a career-best 21 points and 10 rebounds and the University of Florida women’s basketball team improved to 7-3 as it posted a 70-51 victory over visiting Mercer Tuesday evening at Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
 
After a nine-day break in between games for end-of-semester exams, it was reasonable to expect some signs of rust, but the Gators hardly showed it as they knocked down 10 3-pointers, saw two players finish with double-doubles and held their opponent below their season scoring average for the eighth-straight game.
 
Smith, adding 10 or more points for the seventh time in eight games, also dished out a game-high five assists and knocked down seven of her nine free throw attempts. Rookie standout Lavender Briggs continued her impressive play, notching her fourth double-double of the season with a 10 point, 11 rebound performance and for the eighth-straight game finished in double figures.
 
Briggs’ streak of eight-straight games with 10 or more points in the longest such streak by a Gator freshman since Sydney Moss finished the 2012-13 season with nine consecutive.
 
Coming off the bench for the first time this season, Ariel Johnson rounded out UF’s trio of double-figure scorers with 10 points.
 
Florida came out of the gates hot, shooting 56 percent in the first quarter, and kept things rolling from there on as it posted its sixth win at home this season.
 
For the eighth time this season Florida outrebounded its opponent, holding the edge over Mercer 56-35 and dominated second chance points, 24-5.
 
Florida avenged its loss to Mercer last season when it fell 92-82 in Macon in the middle of November.
 
UF led 24-14 at the end of the first quarter, fueled by 56 percent shooting from the floor. The Gators struggled with turnovers early but righted the ship, finishing the quarter on a scoring run. The Gators concluded the first by scoring 16 of the final 21 points. UF made four of its eight 3-point tries in the opening quarter, tying its season best in a first quarter. Kristina Moore had the hot hand early, draining a career-high three treys and recording nine points.
 
Florida’s hot shooting spread into the second quarter as it connected on three of its first five from deep. The Gators maintained a double-digit advantage for the majority of the second quarter and carried a 44-26 lead at the intermission. Seven different Gators scored in the first half and Smith and Moore led the way with nine apiece.
 
Florida’s long-range shooting was excellent in the first half as it knocked down seven of its 16 tries from distance. Moore and Bartram both knocked down multiple three-pointers. The Gators shot a crisp 48.5 percent in the first half, their second-best shooting percentage in an opening half this season.
 
Mercer fought back in the third quarter as the teams played to an even 16-16 score, but Florida never led by fewer than 17 over the course of the final 20 minutes of play.
 
In addition to the supreme effort from the upperclassmen Smith, Florida’s freshmen were also effective, totaling 26 points. Freshman forward Faith Dut scored a career-best five points and added two rebounds in nine minutes.
 
Shannon Titus paced Mercer offensively with eight points, six below her season average.
 
With 10 three-pointers, UF finished with double-figure triples for the second time this season.
 
The Gators return to action this weekend with a pair of matchups at the West Palm Beach Invitational hosted by Keiser University. Florida is set to take on Xavier Friday, Dec. 20 and Wake Forest, Saturday, Dec. 21.
 
UP NEXT
Friday, Dec. 20 | 4:45 p.m. ET
Florida (7-3) vs. Xavier (1-8)
West Palm Beach Invitational
Keiser University Student Life Center | West Palm Beach, Fla.
 
QUOTABLES
Head Coach Cam Newbauer
Opening Statement…
“We knew we were going to see some different things defensively tonight. In the first half, we had to keep our eyes on the rim. We knew they were going to be doing a triangle two on Lav [Briggs] and Kiki [Smith]. I thought Kristina [Moore] did a great job in the first quarter of knocking down 3 three’s. In that first half, we really shot the ball well and got off to a good start. I liked how aggressively we played defensively most of the game as well. I think we held them to 28% field goals which is really good. With Kiki and Lav, even with what the defense was presenting us with, they both still had double-doubles which was great because [Mercer] took away some of our post game. They hit 10 threes and we’ll take that every day. I’m just happy and proud of our group for getting the job done tonight.”
 
On the focus…
We had eight of our nineteen turnovers in the first quarter. That’s more than we like, but it took us a little bit of time to get acclimated to the defense. We stayed together and kept shooting, then hit some shots. 10 out of 19 in the first quarter – that’s a great quarter. Defensively, we did a really good job.”
 
On the benefit of an early lead…
“I think anytime you can get out to an early lead and get confident by seeing the ball go through the basket, it’s going to help you. They’re a pretty good defensive team. When the players that they’re leaving open don’t get shots, it changes everything and puts more pressure on everyone else. It’s great that Kristina [Moore] took her time tonight and hit down three of those threes in the first quarter. For us to get four in the first quarter was huge.”
 
On what they did right tonight…
“Defensively, they had 10 offensive rebounds in the first half, and we limited them to five in the second half. [Mercer] did some things from an offensive standpoint that we were concerned with how they spread the floor out by playing almost five-guard-like. Also, with their ability shoot long jumpers and pull-ups. We had to meet people with high hands and really extend our defense a little bit. We had to mix it up to try to keep [Mercer] uncomfortable from an offensive standpoint and sometimes, when you’re really wide open, you can get tentative. Mentally it can mess with you. That was the thing I was most proud of in the first half, just shooting your shot.”

 
Redshirt-junior Kiki Smith
On her career night…
“We want to have an aggressive mindset. Coach Cam always tells us to just be aggressive and have our eyes on the rim at all times. That’s basically all I did.”
 
On the mindset to stay focused…
“We take it one step at a time. We’re not thinking about our Christmas tournament until we got this one out of the way. Now we’ll move on to our next two opponents and take it game by game.”
 
Freshman Lavender Briggs
On Faith Dut
“I was super proud of Faith. She did great tonight and she’s working hard. I saw some of the moves that she practices every day, so I was super proud of her.”
 
NOTABLES

Redshirt-junior guard Kiki Smith posted her second career double-double with a career-best 21 points and 10 rebounds and the University of Florida women’s basketball team improved to 7-3 as it posted a 70-51 victory over visiting Mercer Tuesday evening at Exactech Arena at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
 
After a nine-day break in between games for end-of-semester exams, it was reasonable to expect some signs of rust, but the Gators hardly showed it as they knocked down 10 3-pointers, saw two players finish with double-doubles and held their opponent below their season scoring average for the eighth-straight game.
 
Smith, adding 10 or more points for the seventh time in eight games, also dished out a game-high five assists and knocked down seven of her nine free throw attempts. Rookie standout Lavender Briggs continued her impressive play, notching her fourth double-double of the season with a 10 point, 11 rebound performance and for the eighth-straight game finished in double figures.
 
Briggs’ streak of eight-straight games with 10 or more points in the longest such streak by a Gator freshman since Sydney Moss finished the 2012-13 season with nine consecutive.
 
Coming off the bench for the first time this season, Ariel Johnson rounded out UF’s trio of double-figure scorers with 10 points.
 
Florida came out of the gates hot, shooting 56 percent in the first quarter, and kept things rolling from there on as it posted its sixth win at home this season.
 
For the eighth time this season Florida outrebounded its opponent, holding the edge over Mercer 56-35 and dominated second chance points, 24-5.
 
Florida avenged its loss to Mercer last season when it fell 92-82 in Macon in the middle of November.
 
UF led 24-14 at the end of the first quarter, fueled by 56 percent shooting from the floor. The Gators struggled with turnovers early but righted the ship, finishing the quarter on a scoring run. The Gators concluded the first by scoring 16 of the final 21 points. UF made four of its eight 3-point tries in the opening quarter, tying its season best in a first quarter. Kristina Moore had the hot hand early, draining a career-high three treys and recording nine points.
 
Florida’s hot shooting spread into the second quarter as it connected on three of its first five from deep. The Gators maintained a double-digit advantage for the majority of the second quarter and carried a 44-26 lead at the intermission. Seven different Gators scored in the first half and Smith and Moore led the way with nine apiece.
 
Florida’s long-range shooting was excellent in the first half as it knocked down seven of its 16 tries from distance. Moore and Bartram both knocked down multiple three-pointers. The Gators shot a crisp 48.5 percent in the first half, their second-best shooting percentage in an opening half this season.
 
Mercer fought back in the third quarter as the teams played to an even 16-16 score, but Florida never led by fewer than 17 over the course of the final 20 minutes of play.
 
In addition to the supreme effort from the upperclassmen Smith, Florida’s freshmen were also effective, totaling 26 points. Freshman forward Faith Dut scored a career-best five points and added two rebounds in nine minutes.
 
Shannon Titus paced Mercer offensively with eight points, six below her season average.
 
With 10 three-pointers, UF finished with double-figure triples for the second time this season.
 
The Gators return to action this weekend with a pair of matchups at the West Palm Beach Invitational hosted by Keiser University. Florida is set to take on Xavier Friday, Dec. 20 and Wake Forest, Saturday, Dec. 21.
 
UP NEXT
Friday, Dec. 20 | 4:45 p.m. ET
Florida (7-3) vs. Xavier (1-8)
West Palm Beach Invitational
Keiser University Student Life Center | West Palm Beach, Fla.
 
QUOTABLES
Head Coach Cam Newbauer
Opening Statement…
“We knew we were going to see some different things defensively tonight. In the first half, we had to keep our eyes on the rim. We knew they were going to be doing a triangle two on Lav [Briggs] and Kiki [Smith]. I thought Kristina [Moore] did a great job in the first quarter of knocking down 3 three’s. In that first half, we really shot the ball well and got off to a good start. I liked how aggressively we played defensively most of the game as well. I think we held them to 28% field goals which is really good. With Kiki and Lav, even with what the defense was presenting us with, they both still had double-doubles which was great because [Mercer] took away some of our post game. They hit 10 threes and we’ll take that every day. I’m just happy and proud of our group for getting the job done tonight.”
 
On the focus…
We had eight of our nineteen turnovers in the first quarter. That’s more than we like, but it took us a little bit of time to get acclimated to the defense. We stayed together and kept shooting, then hit some shots. 10 out of 19 in the first quarter – that’s a great quarter. Defensively, we did a really good job.”
 
On the benefit of an early lead…
“I think anytime you can get out to an early lead and get confident by seeing the ball go through the basket, it’s going to help you. They’re a pretty good defensive team. When the players that they’re leaving open don’t get shots, it changes everything and puts more pressure on everyone else. It’s great that Kristina [Moore] took her time tonight and hit down three of those threes in the first quarter. For us to get four in the first quarter was huge.”
 
On what they did right tonight…
“Defensively, they had 10 offensive rebounds in the first half, and we limited them to five in the second half. [Mercer] did some things from an offensive standpoint that we were concerned with how they spread the floor out by playing almost five-guard-like. Also, with their ability shoot long jumpers and pull-ups. We had to meet people with high hands and really extend our defense a little bit. We had to mix it up to try to keep [Mercer] uncomfortable from an offensive standpoint and sometimes, when you’re really wide open, you can get tentative. Mentally it can mess with you. That was the thing I was most proud of in the first half, just shooting your shot.”

 
Redshirt-junior Kiki Smith
On her career night…
“We want to have an aggressive mindset. Coach Cam always tells us to just be aggressive and have our eyes on the rim at all times. That’s basically all I did.”
 
On the mindset to stay focused…
“We take it one step at a time. We’re not thinking about our Christmas tournament until we got this one out of the way. Now we’ll move on to our next two opponents and take it game by game.”
 
Freshman Lavender Briggs
On Faith Dut
“I was super proud of Faith. She did great tonight and she’s working hard. I saw some of the moves that she practices every day, so I was super proud of her.”
 
NOTABLES

  • Freshman guard Nina Rickards made her first career start.
  • Tuesday was Kristina Moore’s birthday.
  • Moore scored Florida’s opening basket for the fifth time this season. She scored UF’s first six points and knocked down three 3-pointers (setting a new career high) in the first six minutes of the game.
  • Florida held its opponent to under 35 percent shooting for the seventh time in 10 games.
  • Florida outrebounded its opponent for the eighth time in 10 games.  
  • The Gators improve to 11-7 against Southern Conference teams.
  • The Gators improve to 5-4 all time vs. Mercer and have won four of the last five in the series.
  • For the first time since the 2016-17 season, Florida is 7-3.
  • Florida won its sixth home game of the season, tying last season’s total.

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