ST. PETERSBURG, FLA.- The #17 FloridaSouthwestern State Buccaneers shook off a slow start to run away with an 89-55 win Saturday afternoon in St. Petersburg, bringing home their 13th straight win to start Suncoast Conference play with a bang.
On paper it was a mismatch between the 8-10 Titans and the 17-2 Buccaneers, but early on FSW got all they wanted from St. Petersburg. The Titans jumped out to the early lead and it wasn't until nearly three minutes in that the Bucs got their first field goal of the day on the board. FSW trailed until the midway point of the first quarter when Nairimar Vargas-Reyes hit a three from the corner to spur a 14-3 Buc run to close the quarter and give them a 19-11 lead after one.
It again took nearly three minutes for FSW to put one in the hole in the second quarter, but this time they also held the Titans without a hoop, ultimately extending their run to 18-0 as Shondell Vickers and Shekinah Guthrie scored to open up their lead to 30-11 midway through the second. St. Petersburg broke a nearly eight minute scoreless drought with a bucket at the 4:19 mark of the second, but it did little to slow the Bucs momentum as FSW stormed to the locker rooms up by 20 at 41-21.
The Bucs shot 42% in the first half and held the Titans to just nine first half field goals and 35% shooting. FSW was unable to take advantage of a huge disparity at the free throw line where they capitalized on just 10 of 21 attempts in the first 20 minutes of action while St. Petersburg got to the line just twice and went 1 for 2.
FSW saw their lead dip down to 17 early in the third quarter, but closed the period on a 14-4 run to blow the game back open to 66-38 after three quarters of play.
The Bucs scored the first nine points of the fourth quarter to put the game away, getting six during the stretch from Za'Nautica Downs on three acrobatic finishes. They took their largest lead of the game on a three from Kiara Felder with 6:09 to go when they made it 79-40 and would cruise to the finish line in an 89-55 victory.
FSW shot 46% overall in the game and 40% from the three point line. The Bucs held St. Petersburg to just 34% shooting while forcing 25 Titan turnovers which they turned into 29 points on the afternoon. FSW dominated the paint and the glass, outscoring St. Petersburg 48-18 on the inside while holding a 56-26 rebounding advantage in the contest.
It was another balanced scoring effort from FSW who had four players in double figures in the victory. Downs led the group with 18 while Tina Stephens pitched in 17 and had nine rebounds off the bench and Vickers racked up another double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Helping the Bucs on the glass was Vargas-Reyes who ended the day with a career high 11 rebounds including six on the offensive end in the win.
FSW wins their 13th straight as they improve to 17-2 overall on the year while taking their conference opener. St. Petersburg falls to 8-10 and 0-1 in league play.
The Bucs will be back in action on Wednesday in Suncoast Credit Union Arena when they take on Hillsborough in more conference action. That game will tip at 5:30 pm with the men's game to follow.
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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.