By Drew Hill Special to the Tuscaloosa News
The Florida forwards stood tall in their conference victory over Alabama women’s basketball Sunday, and they did it with a little extra flair.
Pink shoes and pink uniforms were a switch-up from the usual crimson and orange attire for the two teams so far this season, and the special “Power of Pink” breast cancer awareness uniforms were a motivating factor for both sides in the Gators’ 66-56 victory.
“It’s just a reminder that there are worse things that are happening besides a basketball game,” Alabama guard Jordan Lewis said. “So you want to give your all in something that you have been gifted to play. We come out motivated every night, but tonight is a night you want to really play.”
The motivation showed in the battle from the paint to the tip. Plenty of missed shots played a role in the crowding of the blocks beneath the basket. In the first 20 minutes, Alabama shot just 32 percent from the floor, while the Gators weren’t much better at 34 percent.
In the second quarter, 2:18 turned out to be the boiling point in the physical post play. Alabama’s Ashley Williams and Florida’s Tyshara Fleming were issued technical fouls for a disagreement underneath the basket, and Williams ended up with an untied headband.
After the dust had settled, Florida took five rebound advantages over Alabama into halftime.
“With the rebounding down there, they probably were more physical than us, and it paid off,” Alabama coach Kristy Curry said. “Every night in this league is physical, and it will be physical again on Thursday because of the size.”
The technical fouls did nothing to change the intensity in the last 20 minutes of play. Florida began the second half by pulling a page out of an old Duke Blue Devils book, slapping the floor on almost every defensive possession. The Gators used the extra defensive focus to hold the Crimson Tide scoreless for the first 5:51 of the third quarter, all while using its offense to generate a 13-point lead. Alabama never fully recovered from there.
“We take pride in (defense),” Florida’s Haley Lorenzen said. “That’s why every time down the floor, we slap the floor to get down in a stance and get ready to play defense because defense is what helped us win this game tonight.”
Alabama was led in scoring by junior post player Quanetria Bolton. Bolton scored 14 points on only eight attempts from the field, and also grabbed five rebounds. Florida forwards Ronni Williams and Lorenzen finished the game with 19 and 18 points, respectively.
Alabama has now dropped seven straight games to Florida.