Howard, No. 17 Kentucky women defeat Florida 85-73

GAINSVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Rhyne Howard scored 31 points and grabbed nine rebounds and No. 17 Kentucky turned back Florida 85-73 on Monday night.

With the Gators challenging on the strength of their 3-point shooting, Howard scored five points with an assist and a steal as the Wildcats stretched a three-point lead with 5:49 to play to 87-73.

Florida, which went 10 of 18 from 3-point range, had four misses and four turnovers in going more than five minutes with just one free throw.

Chasity Patterson and KeKe McKinney both had 13 points for Kentucky (15-5, 8-4 Southeastern Conference), which shot 54% (36 of 67). Jazmine Massengill added nine points, seven rebounds and 10 assists.

Kiara Smith had 23 points with 10 rebounds and Danielle Rainey scored 20 points on 6-of-11 3-point shooting for Florida (10-9, 3-8), which trailed by 16 late in the third quarter. Nina Rickards had a career-high 19 points with 10 boards and six assists.

The Gators announced before the game sophomore star and leading scorer Lavender Briggs would miss the remainder of the season with a foot injury. The 6-foot-1 guard, who was coming off a 21-point, 10-rebound game against LSU on Thursday, was averaging 19.4 points a game and 6.5 rebounds. Her 41-point game earlier this year ranks fourth for the Gators.

Howard was coming off a poor shooting eight-point game in a win over Tennessee. But she was 12 of 20 from the field, including 4 of 7 behind the arc, against Florida.

Kentucky is scheduled to play LSU at home on Thursday while Alabama visits Florida.

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More AP women’s basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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