NICEVILLE, Fla.- For the first time this season, the #14 Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers faced a halftime deficit Saturday night against #21 Pensacola State in the Florida Juco Shootout. It didn't phase the Bucs however as they stormed out of the gates in the second half by scoring the first nine points, retaking the lead and never looking back as they knocked off the Pirates 61-54 for their fourth consecutive victory.
The usually high flying Buccaneers were quiet early on Saturday as Pensacola limited them to just nine first quarter points on 3 of 16 shooting, but the FSW defense did their part, holding the Pirates to just 33% shooting themselves to keep to within two at the end of one 11-9.
The second wasn't much different as the two teams traded empty possessions. The turnover bug bit both teams as they combined for more giveaways than field goals in the period. The Bucs managed just 10 points on 4 of 9 shooting, while Pensacola wasn't any better, going 5 for 15 in the quarter, but still figured out a way to take a 23-19 lead into the half.
The team that came out of the locker room wearing Purple and Aqua didn't remotely resemble the team that wore it in the first half. The Bucs roared out of the break, matching their first quarter total with nine points in just 1:02 to take a 28-23 lead to start the second half. They never looked back. Za'Nautica Downs and Simone Lett heated up for FSW and pushed them to a 26 point period, turning a four point halftime deficit into a seven point lead at 45-38 as they headed to the fourth.
The faucet went dry again early in the fourth quarter however as the Bucs went without a field goal and managed just three free throws in the first 5:30 as Pensacola trimmed the FSW lead down to just one at 48-47. A big bucket by Shekinah Guthrie snapped the drought and they held a three point lead into the final minute of action. That's when the Bucs defense stepped up, getting a stop and clearing the glass before Za'Nautica Downs iced the game with a pair of free throws down the stretch to give FSW a 61-54 win.
FSW finished the game shooting 38% while holding the Pirates to just 33%. Each team turned it over 27 times in the contest. Downs came off the bench for the Bucs to lead the way with 16 points while Lett stepped up big with 14 points and 9 rebounds. Sheslanie Laureano was her usual solid self, chipping in 13 points and 9 boards for the Bucs.
The Bucs win their fourth straight to improve to 8-4 on the year while Pensacola drops their second straight to fall to 11-3.
The Bucs return home after a six week absence on Friday and Saturday when they host a four team classic in Suncoast Credit Union Arena. FSW will take on ASA Miami Friday at 7:30 to kick off the tournament before returning to action Saturday at 2:00 where they will battle Miami Dade.