FORT MYERS, FLA.- The #2 Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers showed why they are the top defensive team in the country Saturday afternoon in Suncoast Credit Union Arena in Fort Myers, holding visiting Polk State to just 58 points on 32% shooting to claim a 74-58 victory and take over first place in the Suncoast Conference standings.
Buckets were hard to come by early on for both sides as the Bucs and the Eagles felt each other out in a battle between the two remaining unbeaten in Suncoast Conference action. It was just a 10-9 game in favor of the Bucs eight minutes in, when FSW began to find their groove. The Bucs scored the next 13 points, highlighted by thunderous dunks from DeShawn Thomas and Maddox Daniels to give FSW their first cushion of the day at 23-9. Polk State finally broke a 7:33 drought without a field goal on a three from the corner with 5:03 to go in the half, but they would get no closer in the final five minutes as the Bucs took a 31-20 lead into the break at half.
The FSW defense was the story in the first half, holding Polk State to just six field goals and 22% shooting in the period. The Bucs didn't fare much better, shooting an uncharacteristic 39%, but did take advantage of six offensive rebounds, turning them into 10 second chance points in the first 20 minutes of action.
The Bucs came out hot in the second half, getting a pair of early threes from Maddox Daniels and Destin Barnes to take their largest lead of the night at 16 with 14:50 to go. But the Eagles weren't going down without a fight, scoring the next eight and holding the Bucs without a field goal for nearly seven minutes to cut the lead in half to 40-32 at the midway point of the second. It remained an eight point game with 7:12 to go when FSW decided enough was enough. Keon Ellis drilled back to back threes to get the Bucs going and the freshman beat the buzzer with a thunderous one handed slam to quickly pad the lead to 17 at 68-51. The icing on the cake for the Bucs came with just under two minutes to go when Ellis continued his hot streak with a steal followed by a picture perfect lob to Charles Manning Jr. on the break who flushed it with one hand to send the arena into a fury. The Bucs finished off the Eagles 74-58 at the final horn to pick up their eighth straight win and remain unblemished in Suncoast Conference play.
The FSW defense stifled the Polk State offense who came into the game averaging 75 points per game and 43% shooting to 17 under their season average and just 32% shooting in the contest. The Bucs heated up in the second half on their side of the floor, shooting 50% from the field and 6 of 7 from three point land to finish the night at 44% overall and 40% from deep.
Manning Jr. scored a team high 17 in the win for FSW while Maddox Daniels added 14 and Ellis 10 points and 6 assists off the bench.
The Bucs push their record to 19-1 overall and 3-0 in Suncoast Conference play while Polk State falls back to .500 at 10-10 and drop their first conference game of the year to fall to 3-1.
FSW will be back in action at home on Wednesday, January 23rd when they host St. Petersburg in a 7:30 tip at Suncoast Credit Union Arena.
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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.