Shorthanded Bucs Grind Out Road Win

Yvens Paul (Photo by Linwood Ferguson/
Yvens Paul (Photo by Linwood Ferguson/
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.- Playing without three starters, the #22 Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers grinided out a 65-58 win over the St. Petersburg Titans on the road Saturday afternoon for their seventh consecutive victory.  
The Bucs were playing above the rim early on as AJ Hopkins drove through the lane and threw one down in traffic and Yvens Paul followed suit moments later to give FSW a 9-4 lead.  The Bucs went to the outside and Jaehshon Thomas cashed a three to make it 20-11 before Thomas found Paul for a highlight reel alley oop to extend the Bucs lead to nine with 8:54 to go in the first half.  FSW didn't relent as Thomas found Paul for another big slam to stretch the lead to double digits but St. Pete closed the half on a 9-2 run to make it just a four point game, 32-28 as the teams went to the locker rooms at half. 
Back to back threes early in the second half from AJ Hopkins and Cole Franklin upped the Bucs lead back to 10 five minutes in and it looked like FSW was finally going to pull away as Thomas nailed another triple to make it 57-44 with 8:15 to go. But the Bucs went ice cold from there, going scoreless over the next 3:50 as St. Pete closed the gap to just four at 57-53 with 4:20 remaining. The dogfight was on from there as the Titans made it a one possession game with 2:23 to go before Thomas came up with a huge bucket to cushion the lead back to five at 63-58. Back to back defensive stops for the Bucs was all she wrote for the Titans as Thomas knocked down a pair of free throws as time wound down, finishing off a hard fought 65-58 win for FSW.  
Thomas led the Bucs with 18 points in the win while Reis Jones dialed up an 11 point, 11 rebound double-double for FSW.  Paul finished 7-10 from the field, good for 14 points while Franklin chipped in a dozen in 36 minutes of work. 
FSW wins their seventh straight to improve to 14-4 overall and 4-0 in Citrus Conference play where they take over 1st place in the league standings after Eastern Florida's upset win over Daytona Saturday.  St. Petersburg falls to 8-10 overall and 1-4 in league play with the loss. 
The Bucs return to the court on Tuesday when they go to Gainesville to take on Santa Fe in a 7 PM tip.