FORT MYERS, Fla.- For the first time in history, there was a heavy dose of snow in Southwest Florida. But it wasn't the fluffy white kind, it was the blue and orange Snow Badgers basketball team in town to take on the 2nd ranked Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers. While the Bucs led for over 33 minutes of the action and the Badgers just 8, it was a pair of key buckets by Snow that was enough to give the visitors from Utah an 81-79 upset victory in overtime over FSW, sending the Bucs to their first loss of the 2019-2020 season.
The Bucs got off to a good start in front of their home crowd as Jalen Finch scored five early points and Ralph Bissainthe had four to push FSW out to a 9-4 lead four minutes in. Some hot shooting from the Badgers quickly knotted the score back up at 14, but the Bucs scored the next seven to break the tie and push back in front 21-14 midway through the half. The pace slowed from there as both teams buckled down on the defensive end, but a finish at the first half horn gave the Bucs their largest lead of the contest at 35-23.
FSW looked like they were in control, holding their 12 point lead at 42-30 with 15:04 to go in the contest. It didn't remain like that for long though as Snow outscored the Bucs 14-2 over the next four minutes to tie the game and then finished on a backdoor cut to take their first lead of the game at 46-44. It was back and forth from there with neither team taking more than a two point lead until they found themselves deadlocked at 55 with 4:51 to go. Two straight offensive rebound and putbacks for FSW put the Bucs back in front and they held that lead into the final minute of regulation at 69-65. The Bucs Achille's Heel Friday was their free throw shooting though and missing three of four in the final minute, they left the barn door open for the Badgers and they welcomed themselves back into the game, drawing to within two with a three and then tying the score on an easy lay in with 4.3 seconds remaining. The Bucs got a great look as time expired, but a game winning attempt crawled off the iron and onto the floor, sending the game to overtime tied at 70.
The Badgers carried their momentum into the extra period as FSW found just two points in the first 4:05 of overtime as they fell behind 79-72. But just when all looked lost for the Bucs, Bissainthe popped a three and Terry Roberts picked off a pass and scored to make it a two point game in the matter of just 14 seconds. The Bucs forced their second straight turnover on the ensuing Snow possession and a steal and score for Keon Ellis tied the game up at 79 with 21 seconds to go. Playing for the last shot, Snow worked the ball around on their final possession until they found a hole in the FSW defense and exploited it for a bucket with just 1.5 seconds remaining to take an 81-79 lead. Without a timeout, the Bucs were forced to settle for a halfcourt heave for the win as the horn sounded and their prayer was not answered as Snow stormed the court with a two point upset victory.
FSW, who shot 50% or higher in four of their previous five games, shot a season low 38% in the loss and were 10 for 30 from three point land on the night. Ellis was a bright spot offensively, scoring 27 on 9 of 18 shooting while Finch added 16 and Simeon Kirkland a 10 point, 10 rebound double-double.
The Bucs drop their first of the year to fall to 7-1 while Snow evens their season record at 4-4.
FSW will have a chance to get back in the win column on Saturday when they host Denmark Tech from South Carolina in a 3 PM matinee in Suncoast Credit Union Arena.