Paradise Jam Opener – A Day of Close Competition

Kyle Clarke, No. 11, dribbles the ball upcourt for Kennesaw State in its opening round loss to Missouri. Clarke represented the Virgin Islands during summer's CAC Games and finished Friday with 10 points.
Kyle Clarke, No. 11, dribbles the ball upcourt for Kennesaw State in its opening round loss to Missouri. Clarke represented the Virgin Islands during summer’s CAC Games and finished Friday with 10 points.

Close competition was the common theme of the day, as three of Friday’s four opening games were decided by seven points or fewer.

The first game of the day saw the Oregon State Beavers outlast the Old Dominion Monarchs, 61-56.

The Beavers started the game on an 11-2 run but the Monarchs countered with a run of their own and took a narrow halftime advantage 26-24. The lead grew to nine before Oregon State was able to make ferocious comeback down the stretch.

Gligorije Rakocevic played a huge part in the Beavers second half surge, contributing seven of his 15 points in the last 3:45 of the ball game. Tres Tinkle extended his consecutive double double streak to 38 games with 13 points, but it was Stephen Thompson Jr. that led the scoring for the team from the Pacific Northwest, dropping in 17 points on three-of-six three-point shooting, sitting only two minutes throughout the contest.

In a losing effort, Old Dominion had 27 points off the bench, 10 of those coming from Justice Kithcart, a career high. Kithcart hit both of his three-point attempts. The leading scorer for the Monarchs was B.J. Stith with 15 points, and Ahmad Caver chipped in 12.

The Beavers will play the Missouri Tigers at 6:30 p.m. Sunday after the Tigers squeaked by the Kennesaw State Owls, 55-52, in the second contest of the day, a game that saw 11 lead changes.

It was the post play that put the Tigers over the top. Their big man duo of Kevin Puryear and Jeremiah Tilmon put up 17 and 12 points respectively and were the only players in double figures for the Tigers.

Kyle Clarke, who played for the V.I. National Team in the Central American and Caribbean Games this summer, put up 10 points for the Owls while Tyler Hooker scored 13 points. Kennesaw State plays Old Dominion in the consolation side of the bracket Saturday at 4 p.m.

The third game of the day resulted in Penn improving to 4-0 for the first time since 1978 as the Quakers pulled out a close contest against Northern Iowa, 78-71.

A career high of 25 points for junior guard Devon Goodman led the way for the Quakers. Goodman also had five of the team’s 13 steals. Bryce Washington shot 4-of-4 from downtown and had 12 points, all in the second half. Antonio Woods also added 12 points for Penn.

Northern Iowa was plagued by turnovers as the team committed 21 of them in the ballgame. Freshman A.J Green impressed for the Panthers as he scored 21 points. Luke McDonnell and Wyatt Lohan’s got into double figures as well with 11 points each.

The Quakers will play No. 12 Kansas State Saturday, the only team to beat its opposition by double digits on day one of the tournament, as the Wildcats beat Eastern Kentucky 95-68.

The Colonels hung around early as the deficit was just four with just under eight minutes left in the first half but by halftime the lead was extended to nine.

The deficit was six points with about 15 minutes left in the game, but after that Kansas State scored 12 unanswered points in 2:30, extending the margin to 18 and effectively putting the game to bed.

The Wildcats had five players in double figures, including Xavier Sneed with 16. Dean Wade and Cartier Diarra had 14 points each.

Eastern Kentucky had two players reach double digits: Dujuanta Weaver with 12 and Nick Mayo with 11.

Eastern Kentucky and Northern Iowa will have a chance to redeem themselves at 6 p.m. Saturday in the consolation round.

UVI takes on Johnson University, from Orlando, Florida, after the consolation games at 8 p.m. Saturday night.