KENDALL, Fla.- The #14 Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers led wire to wire Wednesday night on the road at Miami Dade, but the game was not without drama as they saw a 24 point lead shrink to 1 before hanging on late to win 64-60 to improve to 6-4 on the year.
The Bucs got off to a quick start, scoring just five seconds into the game and building a 10-1 lead just 3:29 in after Za'Nautica Downs went behind the back to Nairimar Vargas-Reyes for an easy layup to force an early Miami Dade timeout. FSW continued to pour it on, eventually opening up a 16-4 lead ahead of the Sharks first field goal of the game which came over seven minutes into the contest. A late bucket by Ta'Shonna Wright-Gaskins closed the quarter for the Bucs, giving them a 22-7 lead after one. While FSW didn't torch the nets in the quarter, shooting 35%, it was decisively better than the 1-20 (5%) that Miami Dade shot in the period.
A rebound and runout from Sheslanie Laureano gave FSW a 28-10 lead early in the second and her rebound with 3:22 left in the half gave her a first half double-double with the Bucs leading 36-14. FSW took their largest lead of the night at 24 moments later when Anissa Tuitt hit a baseline jumper on an assist from Laureano and the Bucs went to the half with complete control of the game, leading 40-22.
Miami Dade scored the first four points of the second half, but the Bucs answered back, pushing their lead back over 20 at 49-28 with 6:36 left in the third quarter. That's when, out of the blue, things went south for the Purple and Aqua. The Bucs managed just two more field goals through the rest of the quarter as the Sharks outscored them 18-6, cutting the halftime lead in half to 55-46 at the end of three.
As they did in the third, the Sharks again got the first four points of the fourth quarter, making it just a five point game at 55-50. The Bucs didn't get on the board in the fourth until the 5:38 mark, missing their first seven shots and turning it over twice on their first nine offensive chances. A big basket from Shekinah Guthrie pushed the FSW lead back to seven with 3:43 remaining, but it still wasn't easy sledding for the Bucs from there. A three point play for the Sharks cut the lead to four and a pair of free throws made it a one possession game at 59-57 with 59 seconds to go. A big offensive rebound and putback from Wright-Gaskins cushioned the lead to four, but a banked in three for the Sharks drew them all the way back to within one with 25 seconds remaining. Wright-Gaskins came up huge again, knocking down a pair of free throws with 8.1 seconds left and after getting a turnover on the other end, Vargas-Reyes put the game on ice with a charity, finishing off a 64-60 win for FSW.
Both teams struggled offensively on the night, combining for 45 field goals made and 43 turnovers. FSW shot 33% from the field and were 0-12 from three point land while Miami Dade shot just 28% and was 3-14 from distance.
Laureano and Wright-Gaskins each dialed up double-doubles in the Bucs' win as Laureano led FSW with both 17 points and 15 rebounds while Wright-Gaskins added 14 points and 10 boards. Guthrie just missed joining the double-double club as she finished with 10 points and 9 rebounds for FSW.
The Bucs improve to 6-4 with the win while Miami Dade falls to 6-4 at night's end.
FSW will have a quick turnaround, making the long trip to Niceville on Thursday to take part in the Florida Juco Shootout over the weekend. Friday the Bucs will battle Florida State College at Jacksonville before taking on Pensacola State in a top 25 matchup on Saturday.