Host UVI Women Take Second in HBCU Basketball Tournament

LiWayne Richardson dunks the ball in UVI’s game against Warner University. (Photo by Dale Morton)

The University of the Virgin Islands women’s basketball overcame being perpetually shorthanded to finish second in the tournament for Historically Black Colleges and Universities hosted at UVI’s Sports and Recreation Center on St Thomas.

The UVI men finished tournament play without a win.

Thursday, day two of the tournament, saw the UVI men and women both suffer double-digit losses.

Wilberforce 62 – UVI 44: The Buccaneers women’s basketball team started this game the way they had the previous three, with two of their rostered eight players ineligible for competition. Despite being shorthanded, the Lady Bucs found themselves holding an early 10-6 lead over the heavily favored Bulldogs from Wilberforce University in Ohio.

The Bulldogs woke up in the second quarter, scoring 30 points in the period. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers proved themselves to be gracious hosts as they turned the ball over to the visitors 10 times, almost equaling the 11 points they scored in the quarter.

UVI’s Melea Lovelace was finally cleared to play during halftime, giving the team a lift as she was able to play the entire second half. But the Bulldogs’ balanced attack was too much for the Bucs. Everyone on the Bulldogs roster registered at least one point in the game.

The Buccaneers were led by Kierra Neal with 14 points and Kaeani Berry who chipped in 13 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Amaiah Jones was the top scorer for the Bulldogs with 13 points.

Warner 82 – UVI 63: The UVI Men’s Team suffered its second loss of the UVI HBCU Basketball Tournament on Thursday evening.

Despite 28 points from Jamal Norris and double-doubles by two other Buccaneers – LiWayne Richardson, who scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and Will Boyd, who had 13 points and 13 rebounds – UVI still fell to the Warner University Royals 82-63.

Turnovers once again plagued the Buccaneers, who gave the ball away 30 times, which the Royals converted into 39 points. The Bucs shot the ball better in this game than they have, 24-of-53 or 45.3 percent from the field and 5-of-11 or 45.5 percent from behind the arc. The Bucs also out-rebounded the Royals 45 to 40.

Darryl Mercer of Warner University led the Royals with 24 points. Joseph Martz and Jeremiah Saunders dropped 13 and 11 points respectfully.

Final Day
Buccaneer fans were treated to two exciting final games as the UVI Bucs closed out their inaugural HBCU Basketball Tournament on Friday evening.

Cleared to play during halftime of this game, Melea Lovelace directs UVI’s offense Thursday against Wilberforce University. (Photo by Dale Morton)

UVI 68 – Huston-Tillotson 67: The UVI women’s team was able to utilize all eight players on its roster for the first time this year. The Lady Bucs came out of the gates sprinting scoring 22 points in the opening frame. UVI’s Amber Appiah-Kubi, the last player to be approved to play, expressed her excitement by nailing a three-pointer just 14 seconds into the contest.

The Bucs kept control of the game for the majority of the first half, leading by as many as 15 points midway through the second quarter. But the Lady Rams of Huston-Tillotson, a private university from Austin, Texas, kept fighting and forced 36 UVI turnovers, which they converted into 28 points. This allowed the Rams to carry a one-point lead into the final frame. UVI’s Kierra Neal went to work in the fourth scoring 10 points on 3-of-3 shooting from the field and 4-of-5 from the free-throw line. The Rams’ Irish Winn had an opportunity to send the game into overtime as she was fouled with three seconds left on the clock and her team down by two points. Winn made the first free throw but missed the second and the Bucs’ KKeaeni Berry secured the rebound, giving UVI a well-earned 68-67 win.

Appiah-Kubi and Neal led the way offensively for the Buccaneers scoring 16 points each. Melea Lovelace added 14 points. Ilana Sanford scored a game-high 17 points for Huston-Tillotson’s Lady Rams.

The win gave the UVI women a tournament record of two wins and one loss, good enough for second place in the inaugural HBCU event.

Huston-Tillotson 71 – UVI 62: The final score in this game doesn’t truly depict the full story. This game was a seesaw battle for much of the night, with neither team able to muster more than a five-point advantage until 7:03 left in the fourth. This is when Huston-Tillotson closed the game on a 17-5 run, taking advantage of six Buccaneer turnovers and gathering four offensive rebounds during that time. The inability of the Bucs to control the ball was a theme of the game as they committed 21 turnovers leading to 13 Rams points.

Jamal Norris scored 20 points for the Bucs and Will Boyd contributed a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. High-flying Shannon Robinson led the Rams with 23 points, which included a few powerful dunks late in the fourth quarter.

The Buccaneer men finished fourth in UVI’s HBCU Basketball Tournament. They will host North Alabama on Saturday at the Sports and Fitness Center.

Final tournament standings:
Women’s Division:
Wilberforce University 3-0
University of the Virgin Islands 2-1
Huston-Tillotson University 1-2
Arkansas Baptist College 0-3

Men’s Division:
Wilberforce University 3-0
Warner University 2-1
Huston-Tillotson University 1-2
University of the Virgin Islands 0-3