Vickers/Stephens Lead Bucs Charge Past St. Pete

Photo by Linwood Ferguson
Photo by Linwood Ferguson

FORT MYERS, FLA.- Shondell Vickers posted her fifth double-double in the past six games and Tina Stephens scored 25 points as #13 Florida SouthWestern State did just enough to get by St. Petersburg 76-68 at home in Suncoast Credit Union Arena on Wednesday night in the Buccaneers 18th straight win on the season.  

Normally hot starters, FSW came out cold on Wednesday and St. Petersburg took advantage, getting out to an early 6-2 lead on the Bucs. A 9-0 FSW run led by Tina Stephens put the Bucs back on top, but they wouldn't keep the lead long as the Titans roared back to tie the score at 16 with less than two minutes to go in the first quarter.  FSW outscored St. Pete 7-3 over the final 1:20 of the quarter and took a 23-19 lead at the end of one. 

A three point play from Shondell Vickers in the paint early in the second gave the Bucs a seven point advantage, but again the Titans hung around, making it a four point game at 28-24 moments later.  That's when the Bucs got hot, outscoring St. Petersburg 15-2 to close out the second quarter, getting 14 of the 15 from Stephens and Vickers to blow the game open at the half  at 43-26. 

FSW shot 41% in the first 20 minutes, holding St. Pete to just 32% from the field.  Stephens and Vickers dominated the first two quarters, combining to outscore the Titans by themselves 29-26.  

The game looked well in control as FSW continued to lead by 16 midway through the third quarter, but from there on they seemed to have hit a wall.  St. Petersburg used a 10-2 run to make it an eight point game before a late basket from Za'Nautica Downs gave the Bucs a little bit of cushion heading to the fourth with the score 57-46.  

Once again it looked as if the Bucs were on their way to another lopsided win as they held a 12 point advantage with under seven minutes to go, but again St. Pete wouldn't throw in the towel. The Titans erased the deficit to just five at 68-63 with 3:35 remaining before fast break hoops from Downs and Cherelle Washington gave the Bucs a chance to breathe as they lead grew back to nine.  The 4-0 jolt for the Bucs was enough to take the wind out of the sails of the Titans and FSW went on to take it 76-68 for their 18th straight victory.  

It wasn't a game for the offensive purist to enjoy as both sides shot under 40% and the two combined for 53 turnovers on the night.  FSW got big efforts from Stephens who finished with a game high 25 and Vickers who notched her fifth double-double in six tries with 18 points and 11 boards in the win.  Tonysha Curry (11) and Downs (10) also reached double figures for the Bucs.  

#13 FSW improves to 22-2 on the year and 4-0 in Suncoast Conference play while St. Pete drops to 9-14 overall and 1-3 in Suncoast action.  

The Bucs are now on the road for three straight beginning Saturday when they travel to Tampa to take on Hillsborough in a 2:00 matinee tip.