FORT MYERS, Fla.- We continue our countdown of the top 10 moments of the FSW Athletics year today as we look at our #9 moment; the Bucs Women's Basketball team earning a bid to the NJCAA National Tournament for the second straight season.
It was an interesting year for the Bucs in 2019-2020 as they opened the season with their highest preseason national ranking in program history while squaring off against by far their best non-conference schedule in their four years of existence.
On opening weekend they took on the defending National Champions and #1 ranked Gulf Coast State and they had the Commodores on the ropes most of the game before a late rally for Gulf Coast forced overtime where they prevailed to hand the Bucs their first loss of the year. After a win over #21 Georgia Highlands the next weekend, the Bucs got their revenge shot at Gulf Coast, this time on the road in Panama City. The game script was eerily similar with FSW leading most of the way before a last second shot for the Commodores gave them a two point victory to drop the Bucs to 2-2. After picking up two more wins to move to 4-2 on the year, the Bucs dropped a pair of contests to #3 Trinity Valley and #13 Midland in the WNIT to fall back to even on the year at 4-4.
That's when the Bucs got hot, rolling off eight straight wins over the next month, including three wins over eventual state tournament participants in Miami Dade and Santa Fe. They closed out the calendar year with a knock down, drag out battle against #6 Chipola, eventually coming up on the wrong end of a 69-63 decision to end 2019 at 12-5.
As conference play got underway, the Bucs got on a roll. They dominated the first two rounds of Suncoast Conference action and sprinkled in a pair of non-conference wins to post a perfect January at 8-0. A win over St. Petersburg in early February clinched the Bucs third straight conference title and they extended their win streak to 12 with wins over Hillsborough and Impact Academy. They stumbled in their regular season finale against Eastern Florida on the road, but with a conference championship already in hand, wrapped up the regular season at 25-5. Unfortunatley, the luck of the draw was not on the side of the Bucs for the FCSAA State Tournament draw as their Suncoast Conference Championship and #12 national ranking gave them Gulf Coast for a third time in the first round of the bracket. The Bucs battled the Commodores for 40 minutes, but in the end, Gulf Coast was too much, forcing FSW to once again play the waiting game to see if their season would be extended at nationals.
Four days later, surrounded by their fans at Suncoast Credit Union Arena, the Bucs got the news during the NJCAA Selection Show, they had earned a #10 seed and would be headed back to Lubbock to have the right to battle it out for a National Championship.
Unfortunatley, things changed rapidly over the following days and after the tournament was postponed due to COVID-19, it was eventually cancelled all together, denying the Bucs of their opportunity to continue their season.
Stay tuned to FSWBucs.com and @FSWBucs on social media Wednesday as we continue our countdown to the top moment of the Bucs Athletics season with our #8 spot on the list.
Top 10 Moments of the 2019-2020 FSW Athletics Year