Bucs Survive Late Scare to Win Eighth Straight

Zairea Hannah & Cabria Lewis (Photo by Linwood Ferguson)
Zairea Hannah & Cabria Lewis (Photo by Linwood Ferguson)
FORT MYERS, Fla.- The #13 Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers didn't make things easy on themselves Saturday night in their second half opener against the visiting Santa Fe Saints, taking a 23 point lead before having to come from behind late in the second half for a 72-67 win to earn their eighth straight win to improve to 12-4 on the year.  
It was a slow start for the Bucs who fell behind 7-3 a minute and a half into the contest.  A three in transition from Sheslanie Laureano got them back on track and jumpstarted them on a 12-0 run to flip the script and give FSW a 15-7 advantage of their own.  They would remain hot, getting a three from Za'Nautica Downs and then two more from Nairimar Vargas-Reyes and Cabria Lewis to eventually open up a 29-18 lead after a quarter of play.  The Bucs finished the period 8-11 from three while shooting 63% overall from the floor in the first 10 minutes.  
Zairea Hannah got an old fashioned three point play early in the second for the Bucs to start them on a 7-0 run to begin the period as they ballooned their lead to 18 at 36-18.  A layup from Vargas-Reyes midway through the quarter gave FSW their largest lead of the night at 23 and they would go to the break seemingly firmly in control, leading 47-30. FSW shot 52% from the field in the half while holding Santa Fe to just 26% including a 5-30 (17%) mark in the second quarter.  Laureano led the way with 12 first half points for the Bucs while Lewis added 10 points and 7 rebounds for the Purple and Aqua.  
As they have all year, the Bucs had trouble in the third.  They started the quarter 0-7 with four turnovers, failing to score a point for the first 3:56 as the Saints trimmed their lead back to single digits at 47-39. A Laureano bucket broke the drought, but it wasn't enough to get them moving back in the right direction as the Bucs continued to struggle all while the Santa Fe sliced the FSW lead all the way down to just three at 51-48 with 3:24 to go in the quarter.  A late score on the inside from A'Moni Waiters gave FSW some momentum into the fourth as they pushed their lead to five at 58-53 after three quarters of action.  The Bucs finished the period with just four field goals while turning the ball over eight times. After opening the game 8-11 from three, they went a combined 0-6 from deep in the second and third quarters combined.  
Again, the start of the quarter was not good to the Bucs in the fourth as Santa Fe scored the first six of the period to erase the FSW lead and take their first lead since the opening moments at 59-58 with 7:05 to go.  A quick answer from Lewis from deep gave the Bucs the lead back and it remained a one possession game after a 2:50 stretch without a field goal for either side as the clock ticked under four minutes with FSW leading it 63-61. The Bucs defense dug in, keeping Santa Fe off the board for over four minutes, pushing their lead to six on an offensive rebound and score from Vargas-Reyes with 2:25 remaining.  Santa Fe cut it to a two point game with 1:11 to go, but that was as close as they got as the Bucs finished things off at the free throw line to win it 72-67.  
After the quick start for both sides, it ended up being a relatively ugly final stat sheet for the two.  Both teams shot under 40% while combining for 43 turnovers. Laureano led the Bucs with 19 points on 6-11 shooting while Lewis and Vargas-Reyes chalked up double-doubles as Lewis put up 17 points and 10 rebounds and Vargas-Reyes 13 and 11.  
FSW wins their eighth straight to improve to 12-4 on the year while Santa Fe sees their 2019-2020 record even up at 7-7 with the loss.  
The Bucs will be back at it in a huge matchup against 14-1 and #6 Chipola at 3 PM.  Tickets are available online at FSWBucs.com or at the Suncoast Credit Union Arena box office.