FSW Drops Top 15 Battle with Chipola

Nairimar Vargas-Reyes (Photo by Linwood Ferguson)
Nairimar Vargas-Reyes (Photo by Linwood Ferguson)
FORT MYERS, Fla.- For the fourth time this season the #13 Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers opposed a top 10 ranked opponent Sunday afternoon in Suncoast Credit Union Arena as they took on the #6 Chipola Indians in non-conference action.  After the first 20 minutes of action, the two were deadlocked at 32, but the Bucs struggled in the third quarter and it eventually ended up being their undoing as Chipola came away with a 69-63 to snap FSW's eight game winning streak. 
The contest was as advertised early on with the two teams finding themselves tied at 7 four minutes in and later on in the first quarter at 14 with 1:32 to go. A late bucket from Jasani Buchanan pushed FSW back in front as they took a 19-18 lead after one quarter of action.  
Tied at 21 early in the second, Chipola went on a 5-0 run to take a 26-21 lead and pushed it to 32-24 with 4:14 remaining in the half.  The Bucs dug in on the defense side of the ball from there, holding the high powered Indians scoreless for the rest of the half while going on an 8-0 run on scores from four different players to erase the Chipola advantage and tie the score at 32 as the teams went to the half. 
It was back and forth early in the third as Shekinah Guthrie knocked a jumper down and then Nairimar Vargas-Reyes scored on the break to give FSW a one point lead at 42-41 with 7:26 left in the period.  The Bucs went cold from there though, failing to move the scoreboard needle for the next four minutes as Chipola retook the lead and pushed it to five at 48-43 with 3:26 to go in the quarter.  The Indians eventually extended their lead to eight before settling for a 55-48 lead at the end of three.  
Chipola took their largest lead of the game at 58-48 early in the fourth, but five straight from the Bucs cut that lead back in half with 7:28 to go.  It remained a five point game with 2:15 left, but the Bucs just couldn't get over the hump as the Indians finished them off 69-63 to snap FSW's eight game winning streak.  
The Bucs shot 40% in the contest while holding Chipola to just 31%, but the Indians ripped down 23 offensive rebounds and the Bucs committed 25 turnovers to allow Chipola to take 15 more field goal attempts than FSW in the win.  Vargas-Reyes matched her career high with 23 points in the loss while Sheslanie Laureano dialed up a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds.  
The Bucs drop to 12-5 on the year with the defeat with all five losses coming to teams ranked inside the NJCAA Top 15.  Chipola continues their big start to the year, improving to 15-1 on the season.  
FSW will now turn their focus to defense of their 2019 Suncoast Conference Championship when they open up conference play on Saturday, January 4th at 2 PM when they take on St. Petersburg in Suncoast Credit Union Arena.