BRADENTON, FLA.- When you are the #1 team in the country, like the Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers have been for the past four weeks, you get everyone's best shot. That happened again Wednesday night on the road in Bradenton as they took on State College of Florida-Manatee-Sarasota in a Suncoast Conference contest. SCF came out swinging and played with the Bucs for the first 10 minutes of action, but FSW withstood the early barrage to take a 12 point lead into the break before ultimately delivering the knockout blow early in the second half to run away with a 91-59 win to improve to 27-1 on the year.
With SCF content to play a low possession contest after getting run out of the gym by the Bucs in their first two meetings, FSW had some trouble finding their rhythm offensively early on and trailed the Manatees 12-9 seven minutes into things. Four straight points from Mason Daniels put FSW back in front and they held that one point lead to the midway point of the half at 18-17. That's when the Bucs began to find a little bit of flow on their side of the court. A three from Jalen Finch started a 10-0 run for FSW to take their largest lead to that point at 28-17 and they added to that cushion before the break, taking a 38-26 advantage into the locker rooms at half.
The Bucs shot 48% in the half while holding SCF to just 32% from the field.
The Manatees remained within striking distance early in the second, but six minutes in, the Bucs stepped on the gas and never looked back. Terence Lewis II grabbed a big offensive rebound and got a putback to get the Bucs going and scored again to quickly make it a 17 point game. Charles Manning Jr. got an old fashioned three point play to stretch the lead to 53-35 moments later. SCF made one last push, cutting the Bucs lead to a dozen with 9:40 remaining, but after a timeout and some words of encouragement from Head Coach Eric Murphy, FSW put things away. A pair of big putback dunks from DeShawn Thomas quickly silenced the home crowd and a barrage of threes from Maddox Daniels over the next 2:40 quickly turned a 12 point game into a 25 point contest with under six minutes to go. FSW continued to pour it on a SCF team that had no answers on the defensive end and Manning Jr. found Keon Ellis for a reverse slam in transition to put the cheery on top for the Bucs in a 91-59 victory to remain unbeaten in conference play.
The Bucs shot 48% on the night while holding SCF to just 31% from the field. FSW dominated nearly every category, outscoring the Manatees 32-4 in transition, 48-18 in the paint, 21-13 on second chance points, and 47-17 from the bench.
Lewis II posted a 16 point, 10 rebound double-double for FSW while Manning Jr. finished with a cool 14 points and six assists in just 22 minutes of action. Barnes had 13 points on 5 of 7 from the field and 3 of 4 from downtown while Thomas just missed a double-double of his own with eight points and 10 boards.
FSW wins their 16th straight to improve to 27-1 overall and 11-0 in Suncoast Conference action on the second. SCF ends their regular season 16-14 and 6-6 in league play.
The Bucs will take the floor one more time in the regular season Saturday at home on Sophomore Day. The Bucs will square off with Polk State in a 2 PM tip with activities planned for their sophomore class before tipoff.