FSW Falls to #6 Gulf Coast in Region VIII Quarters

Cabria Lewis (Photo by Christopher Wallace)
Cabria Lewis (Photo by Christopher Wallace)
NICEVILLE, Fla.- In a first round battle of top 15 ranked teams, the #12 Florida SouthWestern State Women's Basketball team saw their Region VIII Tournament hopes come to an end on Thursday, dropping a 73-64 decision to #6 Gulf Coast State in the quarterfinal round.  The Bucs will now place their season in the hands of the NJCAA at-large committee to determine whether they have done enough at 24-7 to earn their second straight trip to the NJCAA National Tournament.  That decision will be made Monday at 11:30 AM during the NJCAA Selection Show which will be aired live on the videoboards at Suncoast Credit Union Arena and is open to the public.  
The Bucs were the first to score as Cabria Lewis found Simone Lett for an elbow jumper to give FSW a quick 2-0 lead.  Gulf Coast quickly got going though and scored 11 of the next 14 points to take an 11-5 lead four minutes in.  Seven straight from the Bucs put them back in front 12-11 momentarily, but Gulf Coast answered back with a run of their own to take a 20-16 lead after one quarter of play.  
FSW shot just 33% in the first quarter while Gulf Coast hit on 53% of their attempts, but the Bucs forced six Commodore turnovers and turned them into six points which kept them close in the first 10 minutes of action. 
Gulf Coast scored the first six points of the second quarter in the blink of an eye, taking their first double digit lead of the night at 26-16. A drive and score from Ta'Shonna Wright-Gaskins got the Bucs back to within seven with 2:31 remaining in the half, but that is as close as they would get, heading to the half down 38-31.  
The halftime numbers were pretty even as FSW shot 42% and Gulf Coast 43% while both hit two first half threes.  The difference came on the boards where the Bucs allowed 12 offensive rebounds which Gulf Coast turned into 13 points to help them to the seven point lead at the break.  
A layup three minutes into the third quarter from Sheslanie Laureano got the Bucs to within five at 45-40, but the Commodores continued to answer, stretching their lead back to 11 by the four minute mark at 51-40.  FSW got back to within single digits before the end of the period, but still faced an uphill battle, down 55-46 with one quarter remaining.  
FSW made it a seven point game once again early in the fourth and had a chance to close it to less than that on a number of occasions, but the Commodores continued to get the big baskets when they needed them, opening it back up to a 10 point game at 64-54 with 3:50 remaining.  The Bucs never got closer than eight again, eventually falling by a count of 73-64.  
FSW shot 39% in the defeat and hit on just 28% of their 18 three pointers taken.  Lett finished with team highs in points with 17, rebounds with 8, and blocks with 4 in the loss.  Za'Nautica Downs added 16.  Lett set a school record with her 54th block of the season early in the first quarter while a first quarter steal by Downs gave her the Bucs all-time career record with 151.  
The loss drops FSW to 24-7 on the season with all seven of their losses coming to teams ranked inside the NJCAA Top 15 at the time of the contests.  Gulf Coast continues their quest for yet another State Championship as they improve to 22-4 and advance to take on Miami Dade in Friday's first semifinal. 
FSW will hope to hear their name called as an at-large to the NJCAA National Tournament on Monday during the Selection Show which will air live at 11:30 AM and will be played on the videoboards in Suncoast Credit Union Arena.