MIAMI SHORES, Fla. – Barry University men’s basketball team knocked off No. 6 Florida Southern, 94-76, Wednesday. It was the Buccaneers (15-4, 6-4 Sunshine State Conference) second win over a ranked opponent this season.
“If we’re to beat a team like Florida Southern, they’ve been No. 2 in the country most of the year … you have to have a lot of guys play well,” Barry first-year coach Butch Estes said. “I thought our game plan was just outstanding tonight, and that’s the direct result of a lot of hard work by the assistants.”
Five players scored in double figures for the Buccaneers, who shot 53.4 percent from the floor, recovering nicely from two poor shooting performances for one of the biggest wins in school history. Still, the Bucs, who also beat No. 13 Livingstone earlier in the year, are keeping things in perspective. After all, it was just a month ago when then-No. 4 Florida Southern (19-2, 8-2) handed Barry its largest loss of the season, 95-79.
“Well at their house we got blown out by 20,” Bucs sophomore forward Yunio Barrueta said after collecting his eighth double-double with 20 points and 14 rebounds. “Tonight we came out aggressive and rebounded like crazy.”
Actually, Barry was outrebounded, 43-41. But the Bucs led the entire game, building a 20-point lead with 8:05 remaining in the first half, and holding off a second half push by the Moccasins to win by nearly the same margin they lost to FSC in Lakeland.
“At halftime we talked about, ‘Increase the lead, increase the lead, increase the lead,’ and that’s what we did,” Barrueta said after going 7 of 11 from the field in reaching double figures for the 13th straight game.
After Florida Southern cut the gap to six on Kevin Capers’ field goal at the 10:10 mark and again less than a minute later on two of his free throws, Barry pushed its lead back to 12 on a layup by Barrueta with 7:24 to go. Juan Ferrales’ 3-point field goal just under two minutes later gave the Bucs a 15-point lead.
“We remained confident in what we were doing, get to the line and just make shots,” Barrueta said. “Everybody contributed. Even the people on the bench, they gave us intensity.”
Barry junior point guard Deric Hill had 20 points, a career-high 12 assists and five steals. Magne Fivelstad scored 16 points and matched a career-high with six assists. He also went 8-for-8 from the free throw line.
“That’s a team, their MO is to press, and they do it well,” Estes said. “They do it as well as anybody in the country. (Deric) just had his poise tonight. And I can’t say enough about Magne.”
The Buccaneers had 27 assists, which ranks tied for fourth all-time in school single-game history. The school record is 30 assists, which was accomplished three times. Florida Southern had nine assists and 12 turnovers. Barry turned the ball over 20 times.
“Our practices leading up to the game, we were focused in practice,” Hill said. “The coaches are on us on boxing out, containing their shooters. My teammates are always motivating me, telling me they need me. I come out here every day, knowing my teammates want me on the floor. Even the point guards behind me, they’re pushing me, pushing me. We all push each other. It evolves on the court.”
It evolved into one of the better wins in the program’s 30-year history. Barry was 31 of 58 from the field and 21 of 27 from the stripe.
Ferrales finished with 16 points on 6 for 10 shooting, and had five rebounds and three assists. Adrian Gonzalez had 15 points on 6 of 11 field goals.
Florida Southern, which was paced by Capers’ 29 points and Frank Adams’ 15 points and five rebounds, had won the last two games in Miami Shores. The 94 points the Bucs scored was the most allowed by a Florida Southern team against a Division II opponent this year.
“We are in February,” Estes said, “and it’s time to step forward.”