FORT MYERS, FLA.- The #10 FSW Bucs kicked off their 2018-19 season with a nailbiter Friday night in Suncoast Credit Union Arena as they traded the lead with visiting Spartanburg Methodist 14 times and found themselves tied another 14 times until Destin Barnes stepped up and hit a game winning three with less than two seconds on the clock to give them a 63-60 win over the Pioneers.
The pace was good early on between two teams with National Tournament expectations. FSW jumped out to a 9-4 lead, but Spartanburg answered with a run of their own to take a 15-12 lead eight minutes into things.
Both defenses played well in the first half and buckets were hard to come by as the Bucs worked for every bit of a 25-23 lead with three minutes to go in the half.
FSW looked like they would head to the break with that two point lead, but with under a second remaining in the half, they conceded an old fashioned three point play which gave the Pioneers a 30-29 advantage after 20 minutes of action.
Both teams struggled on offense in the first half as FSW shot 35% while holding Spartanburg to just 33% from the field. Charles Manning Jr. led the Bucs with 7 first half points while DeShawn Thomas had a team high 5 rebounds.
Six minutes into the second half, neither side had found a rhythm as Spartanburg Methodist continued to hold a slight lead at 37-35.
A 4-0 run by Manning Jr. and the Bucs put them back in front, but by the eight minute mark, the Pioneers had regained the lead 47-46.
The highlight of the night came moments later when Thomas caught a pass and thundered home a two handed slam in traffic to put FSW on top by one.
With the score tied at 58 and two minutes to go, the two teams traded baskets to 60-60 and FSW had the ball with the shotclock off and just 20 seconds remaining in regulation.
As the seconds ticked off the clock, the game looked certain to be headed to overtime, but that's when Destin James picked the most opportune time for his first three of the night as he raised up and buried a triple in front of the Buc bench to give FSW a 63-60 lead with just 1.7 seconds remaining.
A desperation heave by the Pioneers at the buzzer was well off the mark and the Bucs jumped with joy as they secured the 63-60 win in their opener.
FSW shot 50% in the second half to finish at 42% overall in the contest. They struggled from both lines, shooting just 18% from the three point line and 59% from the charity stripe in the contest. Manning Jr. led all scorers with 20 points while Thomas earned 12 tough points and a team best 9 rebounds. Barnes finished with 9 points, including the game winner.
The Bucs begin the year 1-0 while Spartanburg drops to 0-1. FSW will be back in action on Saturday afternoon at 5 when they take on Combine Academy.
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SUNCOAST CREDIT UNION ARENA
The Buccaneers compete in the brand new Suncoast Credit Union Arena. Suncoast Credit Union Arena is approximately 75,000 square feet and is home to the FSW basketball teams and a student athletic center. The arena seats approximately 3,300 fans and includes six skyboxes, a hospitality event center, competition courts that convert into recreational courts, athletic office space, student, faculty and staff wellness, and an athletic center with a fitness pavilion, men's and women's locker rooms and a weight training area. The arena has two Daktronics displays, on the north and south walls, that each measure 10 feet high by 20 feet wide. Both displays incorporate variable content zoning to each show one large image or they can be divided into multiple windows to show any variety of live video, instant replays, up-to-the-minute statistics, graphics and animations, and sponsorship messages. One-hundred feet of ribbon displays have been installed on the east and west walls of the arena. The ribbons provide the opportunity to supplement the content on the main displays as well as highlight sponsors throughout events.