FORT MYERS, Fla.- After coming in at #6 on our countdown by finding out they were headed to the NJCAA National Tournament, the FSW Women's Basketball checks in at #4 today for what they did at the Big Dance.
In a seven-day whirlwind, the Florida SouthWestern State Women's Basketball team went from not knowing whether their season was over or not, to hopping on a plane to Lubbock, Texas for their first trip to the NJCAA National Tournament in program history.
The Bucs drew the #17 seed and opened the tournament by taking on #16 seed Cochise from Arizona in the first round. FSW showed no jitters in their first National Tournament game, jumping out to a quick 9-2 lead in the opening minutes and securing a 25-12 advantage after one quarter of action. After the Bucs took their largest lead of the game at 19 early in the second quarter, Cochise finally pushed back, closing the half on a 12-5 run to cut the FSW lead to 38-26 at the break.
The Apaches scored the first five points of the second half to trim the FSW lead to just seven, but a pair of threes from Nairimar Vargas-Reyes and a pair of free throws from Tina Stephens spurred an 11-0 run for the Bucs to cushion their lead back to 18 with 4:11 to go in the third. The Bucs went ice cold from there, watching as Cochise cut the lead in half before the end of the period and erased the FSW advantage completely with 2:30 remaining in regulation. The game remained tied into the waning seconds of the game when the Bucs had an attempt to win it in regulation, but a desperation attempt rattled off the rim and sent the game to overtime tied at 62.
Cochise took their first lead of the game 33 seconds into the overtime period and pushed that lead to four midway through the extra frame. Vargas-Reyes came up big with another three to get the Bucs back on track and in the blink of an eye they were back in front 71-70. FSW stepped in and hit four big pressure free throws in a row to grow their lead to five and held off a late push by the Apaches to hang on for a 78-75 win, the first National Tournament win in program history.
We reach our final three tomorrow with more firsts. It comes courtesy of a pair of Bucs teams reaching the top post of the NJCAA regular season rankings.
#3- Revealed July 17th
#2- Revealed July 18th
#1- Revealed July 19th