FORT MYERS, FLA.- Playing as the #1 team in the country for the first time in program history, the Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers rolled to an 86-70 win over visiting State College of Florida Saturday afternoon. The Bucs improve to 23-1 overall and 7-0 in Suncoast Conference play with the win.
FSW came out ready to go from the opening tip, opening up a 10-2 and then 18-5 lead just five minutes into things. A 12-0 run by the Manatees got SCF back within one, but a three from Maddox Daniels and a putback from Terence Lewis II stretched the FSW lead back to six at 23-17. A three point play by Manatee with 7:42 remaining in the half tied the score at 27 and the Manatees took the lead for the first time moments later at 29-28. The Bucs stepped back on the gas though, riding Charles Manning Jr. for a 9-0 run to retake the lead and go back up by eight at 37-29. SCF slowly cut into the Buc lead into the half and hit a free throw with just 0.5 seconds remaining to make it a four point game at the break 41-37.
FSW shot 52% in the half, but had an uncharacteristic 13 turnovers. Manatee shot the ball well also, hitting on 50% from the field and 50% from three, but also coughed the ball up 15 times in the period. Manning Jr. led all scorers with 18 and no other Buc had more than six in the first 20 minutes.
The Bucs came out of the gates strong in the second, scoring the first six points to push their lead back to double digits at 47-37. SCF made one more push to cut it to a four point game, but an 8-0 FSW run from there stretched the Buc lead to 12 and the Manatees never threatened again. The Bucs took their largest lead of the game with 8:19 remaining as Jalen Finch knocked down a free throw and later in the game Manning Jr. put the icing on top of the cake with a thunderous one handed slam as FSW went on to win 86-70 at the final horn.
The Bucs shot 64% in the second half while holding SCF to just 24% shooting to finish the game at 58% overall and holding the Manatees to just 35%. Manning Jr. finished with 28 for FSW while Finch and Lewis each had 12 for the Purple and Aqua.
FSW improves to 23-1 on the year and stays unbeaten in Suncoast Conference play at 7-0 while SCF drops to 13-12 overall and 4-4 in league play.
The Bucs are on the road for two straight next week, traveling to Winter Haven to take on Polk State on Wednesday at 7 PM before making their second trip of the year to St. Petersburg to take on the Titans on Saturday afternoon at 4 PM.