FORT MYERS, FLA.- Freshman Shondell Vickers went off for a career high 28 points and 16 rebounds Saturday afternoon at Suncoast Credit Union Arena in Fort Myers as the #17 Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers took down Santa Fe 83-72 for their 11th straight win to improve to 15-2 on the season.
The Bucs got off to another hot start, jumping out to a 15-2 lead on the backs of Shondell Vickers and Simone Lett who took turns putting the ball in the hole for FSW through the first five minutes of action. Santa Fe roared back from there though, going on a 17-4 run of their own to slowly erase the FSW lead, tying the game at 19 as the first quarter moved into its final minute. Another bucket from Vickers stopped the Saints run and after one, it was a 21-19 game in favor of FSW. Vickers and Lett combined for 17 of the Bucs 21 first quarter points, going a combined 9 for 12 from the field while the rest of the FSW lineup was just 1 for 12 shooting.
With the game tied at 25 early in the second quarter, Vickers and Lett again took over for the Bucs, scoring six straight combined to retake a 31-25 advantage. FSW and Santa Fe played nearly even through the next six minutes as the Bucs took a 39-34 lead into the break at half. The dynamic duo of Vickers and Lett popped off the first half stat sheet, putting up 29 of the Bucs 39 points in the first 20 minutes of action.
It was a sloppy start to the second half for the Bucs as Santa Fe quickly cut the FSW lead down to just two at 41-39 three minutes in. A timeout and ensuing tongue lashing from Coach Kristie Ward work the Bucs up as they went on an 11-2 run to take their largest lead since the opening minutes of the game at 52-41. Shekinah Guthrie split a pair of free throws to put the Bucs up 14 with three minutes left in the third, but again the Saints wouldn't lay down, closing the period on a 9-0 run to make it just a five point game, 62-57 as the teams headed to the fourth. The Bucs shot 50% in the third quarter, but turned the ball over seven times, leading to 12 points for the Saints.
An early steal in the fourth by Cherelle Washington led to an easy two for Tina Stephens to get FSW going and they quickly parlayed that into a 9-4 run to open the period to push their lead back to double digits at 71-61. After trading baskets to 73-63 with 5:30 to go, the teams went scoreless over the next two minutes as the time began to work against the Saints. Santa Fe made one more push, but it wasn't enough as FSW finished the Saints off 83-72 to claim their 11th straight victory.
The Bucs shot 55% in the second half to finish at 49% for the contest. Vickers led FSW with a career best 28 point, 16 rebound effort while Lett also posted her career high with 25 in the win.
FSW improves to 15-2 on the year with the victory while Santa Fe drops to 9-6.
The Bucs will ride their 11 game win streak for three days before returning to Suncoast Credit Union Arena on Wednesday, January 3rd to open 2019 with a date against Palm Beach State at 5:30 PM.