ST. THOMAS — Niki Collins knew that the winning streak her University of the Virgin Islands’ women’s basketball team had rung up would come to an end someday.

Collins just didn’t count on it happening Thursday — or in the manner it came about.

A sloppy performance by the Buccaneers led to a 62-44 loss to Wilberforce University in the second day of the UVI HBCU Basketball Classic tournament at the UVI Sports and Fitness Center.

Kierra Neal had a game-high 14 points and 6-foot-1 center Kaeani Berry put up her fourth double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds for UVI (3-1), which entered Thursday’s game riding a three-game winning streak — the Buccaneers’ longest since the 2018-2019 season.

“No, I didn’t expect this,” said Berry, a junior transfer from Alabama State. “We’ve got to have some type of patience. Freestyling isn’t always going to get it; we’re got to have some type of discipline on offense and defense. We have to execute and use what we have to get what we want.”

However, problems making baskets and keeping possession of the ball – especially in the first half — led to that winning streak being emphatically ended by the Bulldogs (3-2), who have now won three straight games of their own.

“Definitely, especially with our playing inexperience,” said Collins, UVI’s first-year coach. “I tried holding off as much as possible with the other guards, but Melea [Lovelace, a junior transfer from Kaskaskia College in Illinois] begged me to get out there. Having her helped control the tempo in the second half, but we had so much of a deficit it got in our heads mentally. We couldn’t dig ourselves out of that hole.

“That was the inexperience part that showed up [Thursday], just not being able to have them execute as well as they had the first three games.”

Amaiah Jones led Wilberforce with 13 points, with Lea Coulter adding 11 points and Sydney Moore 10 points.

Turning point

The Buccaneers were up 10-6 at the end of the first quarter, and led 12-9 on Berry’s tip-in with 8 minutes, 57 seconds left in the second quarter.

But the Bulldogs went on a 14-2 run over the next 4½ minutes to take control of the game, going up 24-14 on Allayah Hughes’ 3-pointer with 4:03 left.

Wilberforce would go on to lead 36-21 at the halftime break, and take its biggest lead – 24 points – early in the third quarter, going ahead 45-21 on Jones’ tip-in with 7:55 remaining.

Key players

Kaeani Berry, University of the Virgin Islands: The Buccaneers’ most consistent scoring threat, making 5 of 7 from the field and 3 of 5 free throws. In addition to posting double-digit rebounds, she also had a pair of blocked shots. But Berry got in foul trouble in the first half, picking up three.

Amaiah Jones, Wilberforce University: The junior guard didn’t have that good a shooting night (6 of 17 from the field, and 1 of 3 on 3-pointers), but she made up for that with seven rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals.


• UVI didn’t have its best shooting night against the Bulldogs, making just 17 of 58 from the field (29.3%), including just 2 of 19 on 3-pointers, and going 8 for 15 on free throws. Wilberforce wasn’t much better, making 26 of 77 shots (33.8%) and 4 of 15 3-pointers, and 6 of 8 free throws.

• UVI freshman and St. Thomas native Kaya Evans had another rough night. Just a day after scoring 15 points in the Buccaneers’ win over Arkansas Baptist, she was held scoreless for the second time this season. Berry was 0 for 13 from the field (0 for 9 on 3-pointers).

• The extra shot attempts the Bulldogs had came from the Buccaneers’ problems keeping the ball in their possession. UVI finished with 33 turnovers — 19 coming in the first half — which led to 25 points for Wilberforce. The Bulldogs made 20 turnovers, but the Buccaneers managed to score just nine points off them.

In other games

Huston-Tillotson University won its first game of the season Thursday, routing Arkansas Baptist College 69-35. Four players finished in double figures for the Rams (1-2) — Mycah McDonald had a game-high 17 points, Jordan Sanders added 12, and Illana Sanford and Aniya Hicks had 11 points each. Ariyah Minor led the Lady Buffaloes (0-2) with 13 points.

Up next

The Buccaneers close out play in the UVI HBCU Classic today against Huston-Tillotson. Game time is 6:30 p.m. Meanwhile, Wilberforce faces Arkansas Baptist College at 4:30 p.m.

— Contact Sports Editor Bill Kiser at 340-714-9117, or email