Posted: Jan 18, 2020
MELBOURNE, Fla.- The #14 Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers came from eight down at the half Saturday afternoon to defeat #24 Eastern Florida State 93-86 in a key Suncoast Conference road battle to close the first round of conference play.
The Bucs didn't get off to a good start, falling behind 9-3 in the first three minutes before roaring back to tie the score at 14 late in the first on a jumper from Ta'Shonna Wight-Gaskins. FSW outscored Eastern Florida 12-4 over the next two minutes, opening up their largest lead of the quarter 26-18. The Titans trimmed two off the Bucs lead before the end of the quarter, but FSW still held a 27-21 lead after 10 minutes of play.
The Bucs got a bucket from Simone Lett to retake an eight point lead early in the second quarter and the two teams played even through the next five minutes of the period as FSW led 37-29 at the midway point of the quarter. That's when things went South for the Bucs as Eastern scored the next 16 straight points, turning an eight point FSW lead into an eight point Titan lead in the blink of an eye as the game reached the half with Eastern leading it 48-40.
A quick FSW turnover and layup for Eastern gave the Titans their largest lead of the game at 50-40 early in the third. That's when the Bucs decided to get out of their funk and flip the script on the home team. FSW scored 18 of the next 22 points, led in large part by Lett, who had nine point during the run, erasing the Titan lead and turning it into a four point lead of their own at 58-54 with 5:42 to go in the period. They never trailed again. A jumper from Shekinah Guthrie put them up seven and they pushed their lead to 10 on a steal and scored from Sheslanie Laureano late in the quarter. After three, the Bucs were in control, leading 73-65.
Eastern wasn't going to go down without a fight though as they whittled the Bucs back down to one early in the fourth before four straight from FSW gave them some breathing room with an 80-75 lead with 6:26 to go. The Titans again made it a one point game on a three as the game hit the 4:00 mark and it remained that way after a pair of Eastern free throws with 3:16 to go. It remained a one point game into the final minute when ZaNautica Downs knocked down a pair of clutch free throws to push the Bucs lead back to three and moments later Cabria Lewis did the same to make it a five point game at 91-86. Downs cashed in two more freebies later for insurance and the Bucs went on to in 93-86 for their third straight conference win to open their nine game schedule.
The final numbers were pretty close for both sides as the Bucs shot 43% and the Titans 41% in the contest, but the difference came in the paint where FSW outscored Eastern 36-28 in the seven point win. The Bucs played just eight players in the contest and all six that played more than 10 minutes ended up in double figures in scoring in the victory. Downs continued her recent hot streak, going for 27 points and 8 assists while Lett chalked up a big, 19 point, 14 rebound double-double for FSW.
The win pushes FSW to 17-5 overall and 3-0 in Suncoast Conference play on the year. Eastern Florida falls to 16-5 and 2-1 in league action.
The Bucs are back in action Wednesday night on the road at St. Petersburg when they take on a Titans team looking for their first conference win of the 2020 season.