ST. THOMAS — After posting two relatively easy wins, the University of the Virgin Islands’ women’s basketball team finally had to work for a win.

And work the Buccaneers did, rallying in the fourth quarter to take a 58-52 victory over Arkansas Baptist College on Wednesday night in the UVI HBCU Basketball Classic.

UVI’s first win of the season at the UVI Sports and Fitness Center gave the Buccaneers their third consecutive victory — a feat the team hadn’t accomplished since the 2018-2019 season, when they were playing their final year in Puerto Rico’s Liga Atletica Interuniversitaria.

“I had no clue,” first-year UVI head coach Niki Collins said when informed of that stat. “That’s big, especially for the freshmen. They’ve the only ones who’ve been playing outside of [Kaeani] Berry, who’s our sole junior. That’s big … that’s a great confidence builder moving forward.”

Freshman Kaya Evans, who was born on St. Thomas, had a team-high 17 points, and the 6-foot-1 Berry — a junior transfer from Alabama State — added 15 for the Buccaneers (3-0), and both came up big down the stretch when it mattered most.

“It feels good,” to win three straight, Berry said. “Especially knowing that a basketball game hasn’t been played at [the Sports and Fitness Center] in a while. To actually win — to come out with that ‘W’ — feels pretty good.”

Daviunia Jones had a game-high 26 points for the Lady Buffaloes.

Turning point

Berry had eight points and Evans seven points in the fourth quarter, as the Buccaneers had fought back from a 21-12 first-quarter deficit to take a 37-36 lead entering the final period.

Those points would be key, as the sides swapped the lead six times before UVI went on front for good at 50-49 on two technical foul free throws by Berry with less than four minutes remaining.

“We only had six [players dressed] and we’re missing two of our most experienced players,” said Evans, who played high school ball in Colorado. “To see everybody step up and doing their job, and contributing all at once … we were behind, and we fought for it. We just wanted it more.”

Key players

Kaya Jones, University of the Virgin Islands: After getting held scoreless on 0 for 15 shooting Saturday in the Buccaneers’ win over Morris College, Jones bounced back big Wednesday against the Lady Buffaloes. After going 0 for 4 at the free throw line in the first half, she made 4 of 6 in the fourth quarter.

Kaeani Berry, University of the Virgin Islands: The Buccaneers’ major inside threat also came through at the line, making 7 of 8, including 4 for 4 in the fourth quarter off technical fouls. She also came up big defensively, with several blocked shots in close.

Daviunia Jones, Arkansas Baptist College: The Lady Buffaloes major scoring threat, she had 11 points in the first quarter as things looked to be going Arkansas Baptist’s way. But she went quiet in the second and third quarters — only seven points — before trying to get her team back on top in the fourth (eight points).

In other games

Wilberforce University beat out Huston-Tillotson 69-62 in the UVI HBCU Classic’s opening game Wednesday. It was the second straight win for the Bulldogs (2-2), while the Rams fell to 0-2. No other information was available on the game.

Up next

The Buccaneers host Wilberforce at 6 p.m. today, while Huston-Tillotson takes on Arkansas Baptist at 2 p.m. today.