Slow Start Dooms Bucs In Top 25 Clash With Eastern

AJ Hopkins (Photo by William Parmeter)
AJ Hopkins (Photo by William Parmeter)
FORT MYERS, Fla.- The #21 Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers got off to a nightmare start and never recovered from it Wednesday night in Suncoast Credit Union Arena, dropping an 81-66 decision to the #14 Eastern Florida State Titans to fall out of first place in the Citrus Conference standings for the first time this season. 
In a much anticipated matchup between two of the three teams tied for first in the Citrus Conference standings, it was Eastern Florida scoring the first 12 points of the game to set the tone for what was an uphill battle for Florida SouthWestern all night. It got worse from there for the Bucs as after they finally got a point on the board 4:28 into the game, the Titans continued their push, stretching their lead to 17-1 and then all the way to 33-9 with 7:28 to go in the half. At the half it was all Titans with Eastern Florida leading FSW 46-24 as the teams went to the locker rooms.  In the first 20 minutes of action the Titans shot 64% overall and 55% from three point land while the Bucs hit on 29% from the field and 28% from deep.  
It remained a 20 point lead for Eastern six minutes into the second when FSW finally started to inch back into the game. A drive and score from Jaehshon Thomas followed by a three from the sophomore drew the Bucs back to within 15 and another three from Thomas moments later made it a 60-48 game with momentum on the Bucs side for the first time on the night with 10:24 to go.  Just when they had worked themselves back into it though, the Bucs went ice cold, failing to record a field goal over the next 4:46 as Eastern ballooned their lead back to 21 at 71-49 with 5:38 remaining. The Bucs trimmed some off the Titan lead late, but it was far from enough as Eastern dribbled out an 81-66 victory at the final horn. 
The final offensive numbers were on par for the Bucs as they shot 46% from the field and 39% from three on the night, but they couldn't slow down the runaway train that was the Titans as Eastern shot 55% overall and 40% from distance while dominating the glass to the tune of a 37-19 advantage in the contest. 
Thomas led FSW with 23 points in the loss while Dezdrick Lindsay finished with 14.
The Bucs drop their second straight to fall to 17-6 overall and 7-2 in Citrus Conference play while Eastern improves to 20-3 overall and remains tied with Daytona State at 8-1 atop the league standings. 
FSW will try to get back on track on Tuesday when they make the trip up I-75 to Tampa where they will take on Hillsborough in a 7 PM tip.