Second Half Surge Pushes #13 FSW to 17th Straight Win

Photo by Linwood Ferguson
Photo by Linwood Ferguson

FORT MYERS, FLA.- For the first time in nearly a month, the #13 Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers found themselves in a tight game at the half Saturday afternoon at Suncoast Credit Union Arena in Fort Myers.  In the midst of a 16 game winning streak and up just 43-41 against visiting Eastern Florida State, the Bucs stepped on the gas, outscoring the Titans 38-20 in the final 20 minutes to run away with an 81-61 victory to improve to 20-2 on the year. 

The FSW defense came out locked in early on, holding the Titans without a single point for nearly the first four minutes of the game, but the Bucs offense had its own troubles, managing to build just a 6-0 lead during that stretch before Eastern Florida finally got on the board.  The Bucs pushed their lead to 10-2 and held the eight point cushion to 17-9 on a three point play from Za'Nautica Downs, but it was the Titans retaking the momentum before the end of the period, cutting the FSW lead to just 21-19 after one quarter of action. 

Eastern Florida quickly tied the game up at 25 as the second quarter got under way. Shondell Vickers gave the Bucs the lead back with a pair of free throws and they stretched their lead back to six on a circus finish from Nairimar Vargas-Reyes in the paint at the midway point of the quarter. But like the first, the Bucs struggled to close the quarter as Eastern Florida slowly worked their way back to within striking distance and sunk a pair of free throws in the closing seconds to make it just a two point game at half 43-41. 

The Bucs shot 44% in the first half while Eastern Florida connected on 47%, but FSW took advantage of 12 offensive rebounds, turning them into 14 second chance points to hold the two point lead at the break.  Vickers led the Bucs with 12 in the first half while Vargas-Reyes chipped in eight in the first 20 minutes. 

It was a defensive struggle as the second half got under way, remaining a two point game in favor of FSW at the midway point of the third.  Eastern Florida knotted the game at 47, but a 9-4 run by the Bucs gave them breathing room once again with a five point lead late in the quarter.  The turning point in the game came with just over a minute remaining in the period as Shekinah Guthrie was fouled and went to the line and with the Titan bench unhappy with the call, a technical was whistled on Eastern Florida.  The Bucs hit a pair of free throws to push the lead to seven and closed the quarter on a 6-0 run to take their largest lead of the game at 62-51 at the end of three. 

The Bucs didn't let off the gas as the fourth began, using a 6-0 run from Vickers and Vargas-Reyes to open their lead up to 72-54 and stretched it to a game high 22 at 79-57 on a triple from Downs.  From there the FSW defense dug in, allowing just four points over the final 5:59 of the contest to put the finishing touches on an 81-61 victory, their 17th straight dating back to mid-November. 

It was a rough shooting night for the Bucs who connected on just 40% of their field goals and only 2 of 12 from distance in the win.  The difference came on the glass and in the paint where FSW outrebounded the Titans 57-25 and outscored them 50-22 in the purple to run away with the win. 

Vickers continued her tear, registering her second straight and fourth double-double in the past five games with 22 points and 13 rebounds. Three other Bucs just missed double-doubles as Tonysha Curry finished with 11 points and 9 rebounds, Vargas-Reyes notched 11 points and 8 boards, and Tina Stephens had 9 points and 8 caroms. 

FSW improves to 21-2 on the year and 3-0 through the first round of Suncoast Conference action while Eastern Florida State falls to 11-10 and 1-2 in league play.

The Bucs return to Suncoast Credit Union Arena on Wednesday, January 23rd when they host St. Petersburg in a 5:30 tip. 


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The Buccaneers compete in the brand new Suncoast Credit Union Arena. Suncoast Credit Union Arena is approximately 75,000 square feet and is home to the FSW basketball teams and a student athletic center. The arena seats approximately 3,300 fans and includes six skyboxes, a hospitality event center, competition courts that convert into recreational courts, athletic office space, student, faculty and staff wellness, and an athletic center with a fitness pavilion, men's and women's locker rooms and a weight training area. The arena has two Daktronics displays, on the north and south walls, that each measure 10 feet high by 20 feet wide. Both displays incorporate variable content zoning to each show one large image or they can be divided into multiple windows to show any variety of live video, instant replays, up-to-the-minute statistics, graphics and animations, and sponsorship messages. One-hundred feet of ribbon displays have been installed on the east and west walls of the arena. The ribbons provide the opportunity to supplement the content on the main displays as well as highlight sponsors throughout events.