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Reed Arena - College Station, TX

Gators earn gritty double-OT victory over No. 25 TAMU

14 days ago
Florida Athletics
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas - For the first time in program history, Florida women's basketball earned a victory over Texas A&M in College Station, overcoming a 19-point deficit in the third quarter to earn a 97-89 double overtime victory.

In her first game back for the Gators, Zippy Broughton led the offensive effort with a career-high 28 points, in addition to a career-best seven rebounds. Graduate veteran Kiara Smith contributed 27 points, nine rebounds and seven assists while Jordyn Merritt added 17 points and five rebounds.

Florida had a strong offensive day, ending 34-of-75 (45.3%) from the field and 13-of-30 (43.3%) from deep. The 13 made threes is the third-best shooting performance from Florida in program history. Texas A&M, the third-best three-point shooting team in the nation heading into Sunday's action, ended just 4-of-11 from deep.

The UF defense managed to make the Aggies uncomfortable all game, forcing 21 turnovers in addition to 11 steals, led by Broughton with four. The Aggies did, however, control the boards with a 49-40 advantage. Florida held a 22-21 advantage in points off of turnovers.

It was a slow start for both squads offensively, as Broughton converted on the only jumper from either team through the first three minutes. The defense remained strong for the Gators, holding the Aggies to a 0-for-9 start from the field while forcing seven turnovers during that span.

After opening up an 8-2 lead, the Aggies would respond with an 8-0 run of their own to take a 10-8 lead. Freshman Alberte Rimdal would put an end to the run, knocking down a jumper with 2:00 on the clock to draw even with the Aggies. Streaking across the middle of the lane, Smith knocked down a jumper to give the Gators the lead once again before Broughton connected on two free throws late to take a 14-11 advantage into the second quarter. Texas A&M was held to just 3-of-17 shooting during the opening frame.

The Aggies connected on their first triple of the game to open the second quarter, evening the game at 14. Florida, however, remained in control with Kristina Moore dropping a dime to Broughton in the lane for an easy bucket, followed by another Broughton jumper, to force a TAMU timeout with 7:14 left.

Broughton would continue to provide the offensive spark for the Gators, knocking down triple at the 6:33 mark to extend the UF lead to 21-16. The opposition would again pull within one, but Merritt, at the top of the key, converted on her first triple of the game to push the lead back to four. The Aggies would end the half on a 14-3 run to take a 34-27 lead at the break. Broughton led all scorers with 14 points in the opening half.

A quick 6-0 spurt from the Aggies to start the third would quickly extend their lead to the biggest of the evening so far at 43-29, but the Gators would quickly fight their way back within 10 after a three-pointer by Rimdal with 8:09 on the clock.

After falling behind by 19, the Orange & Blue would use a 9-0 run, capped off by a steal from Moore and layup from Smith, to pull within 55-45 with 2:06 on the clock. After a missed free throw and jumper by Smith on the following possession, Florida would pull within nine for the first time since the 9:49 mark of the third. Both squads would exchange baskets late before the Aggies took a 61-52 lead into the final frame.

Neither team would find the bottom of the bucket until Merritt close the gap to just three points following back-to-back triples with 6:55 remaining in the game. A steal and score on the next possession from Broughton would pull UF within one at 61-60. After exchanging a pair of buckets, Moore would finally give the Gators the lead at 64-62 with 5:04 on the clock. Smith would extend the UF run to 15-2, converting an and-one with 3:56 left in the game to give the Gators a five-point lead.

The Aggies would respond with a 5-0 run of their own to even the game at 67, but Smith would again slice through the lane to give the Gators an advantage. Texas A&M's Maliyah Johnson would even the game following a jump with under two minutes remaining, before again tying the game following a Merritt layup with under one-minute remaining. The Aggies would have several looks at the basket in the final seconds, but the UF defense managed to force important stops to send the game to overtime at 71.

Both squads exchanged triples to open the overtime period, knotting the game at 74 before a quick 4-0 spurt gave the Aggies a 78-74 advantage. After Smith knocked down two free throws and the Aggies converted on one, Broughton muscled up in the lane for a tough runner to draw within one at 79-78. Florida would tie the game at 82 after falling behind by four with one-minute remaining, before Smith drained two free throws to take the lead with eight seconds remaining. A&M's Qadasha Hoppie would match Smith's effort at the charity stripe with two seconds remaining, sending the game to a second overtime.

Florida opened the second overtime period on a 4-0 run, immediately taking an 88-84 lead after forcing turnovers on back-to-back Aggie possessions. The Aggies would manage to cut their deficit to two on multiple occasions, but the Gators would answer each time, earning a 97-89 victory. Florida held the Aggies to just one triple between both overtime periods.

The Gators will be back in action on Thursday, Jan. 13 when Auburn visits Exactech Arena in the Stephen C. O'Connell Center for an SEC Network matchup.

Quotables

Head Coach Kelly Rae Finley

On Sunday's performance...

"Prior to this game, we talked about who we are as a team and what we wanted to look like on the court. We wanted to be all that we are: relentless, determined, energetic and unbreakable. I feel like we showed that we are all those things and more."

On Kiara Smith's and Zippy Broughton's performances...

"Player for player, we gave remarkable effort. Kiki and Zippy performed like the elite guards that they are. They play both ends of the floor, they're creative scorers and playmakers and they were fun to watch compete today."

Postgame Bites

- Florida earned their first win in program history in College Station and made the series record 11-2, in favor of Texas A&M.

- The 19-point comeback marked the largest since a 14-point comeback against Kentucky on Feb. 2, 2020.

- The 13 made threes by Florida on Sunday tied the third-best outing in program history.

- Sunday was Florida's first overtime game since an 83-74 loss against Northwestern on Nov. 18, 2018.

- Florida connected on 13 triples, their highest number this season first time surpassing 10 since playing Towson on Nov. 12, 2021.

- Broughton recorded a season-high 14 points in the first half, eventually ending the game with a career-best 28 points.

- Sunday was Florida's first ranked-win of the season and first ranked win since Feb. 23, 2020 against No. 22 Arkansas, 83-80.

- Sunday was Florida's first ranked win on road since Jan 12, 2020 when they won at #13 Kentucky, 70-62.

- Smith's 27 points, a season-high, pushed her past Jennifer George (2009-13) for 19th all-time in Florida history with at 1,282 points.

- Smith's seven assists give her 376 for her career, the ninth-best number in Florida history.

- Smith's 191 steals are 10th in school history.

- #GoGators -