ST. THOMAS — University of the Virgin Islands men’s basketball coach Alfonzo Duncan knows he’s got a young team, with players that haven’t been together on the court all that long.
That’s made the Buccaneers’ first handful of games almost like a classroom — with some hard lessons to go along with it.
Well, UVI learned a painful lesson Thursday night, falling to Warner University 82-63 on the second day of the UVI HBCU Basketball Classic tournament at the UVI Sports and Fitness Center.
Jamal Norris scored a game-high 28 points and two other Buccaneers players finished with double-doubles — 6-foot-10 centers LiWayne Richardson had 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Will Boyd 13 points and 13 boards.
But trouble keeping possession of the ball, especially in the first half, allowed the Royals (3-0) to remain undefeated while handing UVI its fourth consecutive loss.
“Experience, experience, experience,” Duncan said. “We have no experience. We have a bunch of young freshmen, and even the guys who have some experience like Will Boyd and LiWayne, they only have a year or two. So we have a lot of inexperience and youth.
“We just got to keep playing and build on what we have, but it’s going to take some time.”
Darryl Mercer led four Warner players in double figures with 24 points. Joseph Martz added 13 points, Jeremiah Saunders came off the bench to score 11 points and Blaize Darling Jr. had 10 points.
The Buccaneers were actually in this game for a good portion of the first half, leading by as many as seven points, the last at 20-13 on a Boyd layup with 8 minutes, 14 seconds left.
That’s when the Royals kicked things up a notch, with a Mercer 3-pointer at the 7:42 mark igniting a 22-4 run to close out the half and put Warner up 35-24.
The Royals would go on to extend their lead to as many as 31 points midway through the second half, going ahead 70-39 on Johnathan Joseph’s layup with 8:14 remaining.
Jamal Norris, University of the Virgin Islands: The 6-4 freshman saw a lot of playing time Thursday — all 40 minutes, to be precise. He made 8 of 16 from the field (including a team-best 5 of 10 3-pointers) and 7 of 8 free throws. He also had eight rebounds and three assists.
Darryl Mercer, Warner University: The Royals’ scoring threat didn’t have that great of a shooting night — 9 of 23 from the field, and 5 of 13 on 3-pointers. But he also had five rebounds, two assists and three steals.
• UVI actually had a pretty good shooting night, making 24 of 53 from the field (45.3%) and 5 of 11 3-pointers (but only 10 of 19 free throws). Meanwhile, the Royals made 31 of 76 shots (40.8%) and 13 of 33 3-pointers (but even worse free throw shooting, 7 of 17).
• Warner’s extra scoring opportunities came as a result of the Buccaneers’ problems with ball control. UVI had 30 turnovers Thursday (20 off Royals steals). That led to Warner finishing with a 39-12 advantage in points off turnovers.
In other games
Wilberforce University downed Huston-Tillotson College 96-85 in Thursday’s other men’s game. No other information was available on the game.
The Buccaneers close out play in the UVI HBCU Classic today against Huston-Tillotson. Game time is 8:30 p.m. In the second game, Wilberforce faces Warner at 2 p.m.