OCALA, FLA.- The #1 Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers had all of their pistons firing Thursday afternoon in the FCSAA/Region VIII Tournament Quarterfinals. The Bucs put up 57 points in route to a 20 point halftime lead before putting on a show in the second half to finish off a dominating 109-71 win over Indian River to advance to the final four on Friday.
It was an entertaining start as DeShawn Thomas started the game with a two handed putback dunk for the Bucs and Maddox Daniels cashed a three from the wing and then hit three free throws moments later to tie the game at 13 five minutes in. The up and down pace continued as FSW and Indian River went blow for blow to the 11 minute mark with the game tied at 22. Mason Daniels found Keon Ellis for two to put the Bucs in front and they used the bucket to start a 7-0 run to take a 29-22 lead. From there, the Bucs caught fire. The Pioneers couldn't figure out which way to look as Mason Daniels popped a three and then Destin Barnes one of his own to push the Bucs lead to 10. FSW continued to click as Jalen Finch hit a three and Charles Manning Jr. slashed to the bucket and scored to make it a 15 point game. After an Indian River free throw, the Bucs scored the final six points of the half to take a 57-37 lead into the break.
FSW shot 54% from the field in the half and connected on 42% from deep while turning the ball over just twice in the half. Maddox Daniels led the Bucs with 13 in the half while Ellis and Thomas combined to go 9 for 9 from the field, scoring 11 and 10 respectively.
The break didn't slow the Bucs down as they continued to light up the scoreboard as the second half began. Barnes hit another three and Ellis picked off a pass and twirled in the air for a 360 slam to give the Bucs their largest lead to that point in the game at 72-46. It didn't stop there though as they stretched their lead to 30 on a three from Mason Daniels and made it a 37 point game at 97-60 on back to back baskets from Manning Jr. with 6:30 to go. The Bucs set a school record for points in a postseason contest with their 99th point of the game at the six minute mark and put up 10 more after that to finish off an impressive 109-71 victory to advance to the semis.
FSW shot 56% from the field in the win and 42% from the three point line while committing a season low six turnovers in the contest. Seven different players reached double figures in scoring for the Bucs led by Ellis who poured in a career high 22 on 8 of 9 shooting. Joining him was Mason Daniels who finished with 14, Maddox Daniels who had 13, Manning Jr. and Thomas who had 12 a piece, Barnes with 11, and Finch who had 10 and a career high 7 rebounds.
The Bucs improve to 29-1 on the year with the victory while Indian River sees their season come to an end at 20-11.
FSW now awaits the winner of the #8 Northwest Florida State/#21 Daytona State quarterfinal. The Bucs will play that semifinal game Friday night at 6 PM.