ST. PETERSBURG, FLA.- Florida SouthWestern's Charles Manning Jr. showed exactly why he was an early signee to LSU Saturday afternoon in St. Petersburg, putting his Buccaneers on his back with a career high 30 point performance in a come from behind, 79-73 win for #5 FSW in their Suncoast Conference opener.
It was a rocky start for the Bucs against the Titans in their conference opener. FSW fell behind early and didn't get their first field goal on the board for over three minutes to begin the contest. Four straight points from Charles Manning Jr. and a dish from Manning Jr. to Mason Daniels for a bucket knotted the game at seven early on, but the Bucs weren't able to gain their first lead of the game until the 12:43 mark of the first when Manning Jr. knifed the lane and scored to put them in front 13-12.
FSW pushed their lead to four moments later when Simeon Kirkland scored in the paint, but that lead would be short lived as the Titans went on an 11-0 run over the next 4:22 to take their largest lead of the game at 25-18 with 6:53 to go in the half.
A pair of free throws from Manning Jr. and an offensive putback from Terence Lewis II got the Bucs back on track and they managed to work their way back to within one before the half at 35-34.
FSW shot 45% in the first half while holding St. Petersburg to 41% shooting, but the Titans managed eight more field goal attempts thanks in large part to 10 first half offensive rebounds against the Bucs. Manning Jr. led the Bucs with 15 points in the half while no other FSW player had more than five.
An early Daniels to Daniels hookup in the second half, Mason to Maddox led to a three in transition for the Bucs to tie the game up, but again the Titans responded with a triple of their own to retake the lead.
The game continued to go back and forth to the midway point of the second where the two teams found themselves tied for the seventh time on the night at 52 with 11:17 remaining.
After FSW took the lead on a bucket from Kirkland with under eight to go, St. Petersburg answered again, this time knotting the score at 63.
The Titans used the momentum to start an 8-0, helped by a banked in three from the top of the key and FSW looked like they might be in trouble, down 69-63 with just over six minutes to go.
With Manning Jr. drawing the full attention of the Titan defense, three other Bucs rose to the occasion as Destin Barnes knocked down a pair of free throws, Maddox Daniels connected from downtown in transition, and Tyler Morman flushed one home to tie the score back up at 72 with 3:35 remaining.
Points were tough to come by from there as both teams desperately battled for the win in their conference opener. After trading free throws for the 12th tie of the night, FSW had a chance to take the lead with under a minute to go, but couldn't put the ball in the hole as the contest remained deadlocked. However, Barnes was able to come out of a scrum with a loose ball and found his way to the basket for two to break the tie and put the Bucs up 75-73 with 53 seconds to go.
St. Petersburg drew up a play during a timeout, but Mason Daniels read it perfectly, picking up a steal and giving the Bucs the basketball with the lead with just 43 seconds left in regulation.
On the ensuing possession, it looked like FSW might be whistled for a shot clock violation as they milked every valuable second off of the clock before Jalen Finch launched a three from the top, finding nothing but the bottom of the net to send the Buccaneer bench into a flurry as they took a five point lead just 13 seconds to go.
Needing one more stop for the win, the Bucs called on Mormon who rejected a Titan shot off the backboard and then corralled the carom to seal the victory for FSW. Manning Jr. would be fouled and hit a free throw as the Bucs finished off a come from behind 79-73 win to stun the home crowd in the SPC Gymnasium.
The Bucs shot just 43% in the win, but held St. Petersburg to under 40% on the afternoon. Each team had 15 turnovers in the contest but FSW was able to turn the 15 Titan fumbles into 23 points while St. Petersburg was only able to cash in 15 points of the Bucs miscues.
Manning Jr. scored a career high 30 in the win for FSW, finishing 11 for 19 from the floor and 8 for 12 from the line. Maddox Daniels pitched in 13 on 4 of 5 from downtown while Kirkland had eight in 15 minutes of action.
FSW pushes their 2018-19 record to 16-1 with the victory while St. Petersburg falls to 10-7.
The Bucs are back in action on Wednesday at home in Suncoast Credit Union Arena when they take on Hillsborough in a 7:30 pm tip.
FOLLOW THE BUCS
For the latest news on FSW Athletics, log on to FSWBucs.com or stay connected to the Bucs on social media. Follow the Buccaneers on Twitter @FSWBucs, on Instagram @FSWBucs, on Facebook at Facebook.com/FSWBucs and on Snapchat at BucsSnaps.
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.