Bucs Drop Conference Opener

Federica Lagana (Photo by Linwood Ferguson/CaptivePhotons.com)
Federica Lagana (Photo by Linwood Ferguson/CaptivePhotons.com)
FORT MYERS, Fla.- There was a lid on the basket for the Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers today as the Bucs shot just 27% from the field and yielded 23 offensive rebounds to the #15 Indian River Pioneers to drop their 2023 Southern Conference opener 70-53. 
In a matchup of the two teams expected to battle for the Southern Conference crown this season, it was just about as expected early on as neither team could gain any ground early with the score tied at 3, 5, and then 7 at the 6:00 mark of the first quarter. The teams traded threes to make it 11-11 at the midway point of the period, but Indian River outscored the Bucs 10-5 over the final five minutes of the quarter to take a 21-16 lead after one. 
The Bucs deficit grew to nine at 28-19 three minutes into the second.  A jumper from Natalia Tondi followed by a pair of three throws from Blessing King got the Bucs back to within four, but they wouldn't get another field goal over the final 6:05 of the half and watched as Indian River cushioned their lead to 11 at 38-27 as the teams went to the locker rooms at the break. 
FSW managed just four field goals a piece in the first and second quarters, shooting 23% overall from the field. 
The draught continued for the Bucs as the second half began as Indian River scored the first eight points of the third quarter to extend their lead to a game high 19 at 46-27. FSW finally got a bucket at the 6:39 mark of the quarter, breaking a nearly 10 minute stretch without the ball going through the net.  Seven straight from Tondi got the Bucs back to within a dozen and a putback moments later from King made it a single digit game once again at 46-37 in favor of the Pioneers with 3:08 to go in the third.  Indian River got a pair of buckets to push their lead back to 12 before Kiana Wilson beat the third quarter horn to make it a 10 point game at the end of three, 52-42.  
The Bucs momentum was short lived as Indian River scored six points in the first minute of the fourth to open back up a 16 point lead and FSW never threatened again. The Bucs managed just one field goal over the final 4:54 of the contest, eventually falling 70-53. 
FSW shot a forgettable 27% overall from the field in the loss and hit on just 4-16 from three. Indian River crushed the Bucs on the glass, pulling down 23 offensive rebounds and turning those extra opportunities into 18 points on the afternoon. Tondi had 12 points on 5-10 shooting in the loss while King had 8 points and pulled down 15 rebounds for the Bucs. 
The Bucs fall to 10-6 overall and 0-1 in Southern Conference play with the loss while Indian River's first all-time win over FSW in Suncoast Arena improves them to 16-3 overall and 1-0 in league play. 
FSW will look to rebound on Wednesday when they travel to Miami to take on the Sharks of Miami Dade in a 5:30 tip from South Beach.