FSW Flies Past Hawks in Southern Conference Action

Blessing King (Photo by Jontavious Timmons)
Blessing King (Photo by Jontavious Timmons)
FORT MYERS, Fla.- Blessing King and Macarena Retamales combined for 40 points and Natalia Tondi and Shaniya Rose each posted career highs as the Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers cruised past the Hillsborough Hawks 85-67 in Southern Conference play Monday night in Suncoast Credit Union Arena in Fort Myers. 
Things didn't get off to a picture perfect start for the Bucs against the Hawks as Hillsborough scored the first five points of the night to take an early 5-0 lead.  The Bucs answered quickly though as five straight from Natalia Tondi tied the score and a triple from the sophomore moments later had FSW on a 10-0 run to take a 10-5 lead 2:37 in. Points continued to pour in for both sides as Macarena Retamales drained a three from the corner to push the Bucs lead to 20-10 before the under 5:00 media timeout and at the end of an exciting 10 minutes of action it was FSW 29 and Hillsborough 17.  
A three point play from Blessing King early in the second pushed the Bucs lead to 16 and it looked like FSW was going to pull away from the 4-14 Hawks early.  But a cold stretch from FSW combined by a hot streak from Hillsborough quickly trimmed the Bucs lead down to just four at 35-31 with 6:04 to go in the first half.  A rare three from Shaniya Rose got the Bucs back on track and by the half, they built their lead back up to double digits at 46-36 as the teams went to the locker rooms at the break. 
The Bucs opened things up right away as the second half began as Aaliyah Williams knocked down a pair of short jumpers and Rose made her second three pointer of the contest to quickly make it a 16 point game once again at 58-42. King ripped down an offensive rebound and dropped it back in to give FSW their first 20 point lead of the game at 65-45 with 2:47 to go in the third and the Bucs carried that lead into the fourth at 71-50.  
The Bucs were never threatened in the fourth as King grabbed her 10th rebound of the night and was fouled where she knocked down a pair of free throws to notch her third straight double-double while making it 75-54 FSW with 7:59 to go.  Tondi knocked down a mid range jumper to tie her career high with 16 points late in the fourth and Rose did the same to give her 13, a new career high as the Bucs finished off an 85-67 win to wrap up the first round of Southern Conference play.  
A number of Bucs lit up the stat sheet in the win as King chalked up her third straight double-double with 20 points and 15 rebounds and Retamales joined her with 20 points in the victory.  With her father in attendance from Argentina, Tondi tied her career high with 16 points in 7 of 17 shooting and Roses set her new career high with 13 points on 5 of 8 from the field. 
FSW improves to 13-6 overall with the win while moving to 2-1 in Southern Conference action.  Hillsborough's rough 2023 continues as the Hawks fall to 4-14 overall and 0-2 in league play. 
After three games in five days, the Bucs will have some time off now as they have their conference bye this week and won't take the floor again until January 25th when they travel to Fort Pierce to take on Indian River in a key Southern Conference battle.