MELBOURNE, FLA.- The #10 Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers made their case to the rest of the NJCAA this weekend, first knocking off #5 Eastern Florida State 66-56 and then #8 Salt Lake 80-75 to improve to 10-0 on the year.
On Friday, the Bucs took on Eastern Florida State in a true road game on the Titans home floor. Points were at a premium early on and all night as midway through the first half, FSW had managed just eight points as EFSC held a 14-8 advantage.
The Bucs woke up from there, going on a 10-0 run to grab their first lead of the night, but a three at the buzzer for Eastern knotted the score up at 29 at the break.
FSW retook a four point lead early in the second half, but the back and forth affair continued as a 5-0 Titan run gave them a 43-42 lead with just over 14 minutes remaining in regulation.
EFSC stretched their lead to five with under 10 minutes to go, but the Bucs didn't panic, cutting the Titan lead back to one possession before striking with back to back scores to flip the script and take a 59-56 lead with 2:54 to go.
A bucket from Charles Manning Jr. stretched the lead to five and the FSW defense did the rest from there as the Bucs held EFSC without a single point for the final 4:30 to come away with a 66-56 win to improve to 9-0 on the year.
FSW shot a season low 39% in the game, but their defense was outstanding, holding the Titans to just 29%, while forcing more turnovers (22) than Eastern had field goals (18) on the night.
The Bucs didn't get any refuge in their second contest of the weekend as they took on #8 Salt Lake in a quick turnaround on Saturday.
Again, it was a struggle for both offenses early as the Bucs and Bruins found themselves tied at 10 eight minutes into the action.
Things heated up from there though as FSW begun to find their groove while Salt Lake attempted to keep pace. The Bucs took a 27-22 lead at the eight minute mark on a triple from Maddox Daniels and pushed their lead to eight later in the half at 41-33 as Manning Jr. knifed the lane and scored.
FSW would get two more buckets before the first half came to a close, taking a 45-36 lead into the locker rooms at the break.
The Bucs held their nine point lead to the 16 minute mark, but seven straight from Salt Lake's Cameron Mack made it a two point game just a minute later.
The Bruins knotted the game with just under 14 to go and continued a 16-2 run to take a 61-56 lead on the Bucs.
FSW finally stopped the Bruin momentum with a hoop and used it to propel themselves on a 16-5 run led by Maddox Daniels to retake a six point lead at 72-66.
Salt Lake cut the lead to four with under a minute to go, but the Bucs took care of business at the free throw line down the stretch to hang on for an 80-75 win, their second straight over a top 10 ranked opponent, to improve to 10-0 on the year.
FSW shot just 39% from the field in the win, but connected on 38% from downtown to help their cause. Maddox Daniels led the Bucs with 23, while Keon Ellis and Mason Daniels each added 13 off the FSW bench. Mack, a St. Johns commit, scored 39 for the Bruins in the losing effort.
FSW remains unbeaten on the year with the victories and will now patiently await a new number next to their name next week as the NJCAA's first regular season Top 25 will come out Wednesday with the Bucs expected to make a jump into the upper echelon of the top 10. FSW is one of seven teams nationally with two wins over ranked opponents this season and is the only team in the country that boasts two top 10 wins.
The Bucs will have the week off before returning to the court Saturday and Sunday in Ocala when they take part in the 2018 Florida Juco Shootout with dates against Pensacola State and #1 Northwest Florida State.
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WATCH THE BUCS ONLINE
All of FSW's home games will be available online through FSW Livestream (FSW.edu/livestream), and can be viewed on smartphones, tablets and laptop or desktop computers.
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.