The University of the Virgin Islands’ men’s basketball team will have to wait at least another day to get its first win.
The Buccaneers fell short in a second-half rally against Morris College on Friday night, eventually losing to the Hornets 60-51 in the teams’ season opener in Sumter, S.C.
Freshman guard Jamal Norris scored 18 points to lead three players in double figures for UVI (0-1), which trailed by as many as 14 points before the Buccaneers played their way back into contention.
Junior center Will Boyd added a double-double with 12 points and a game-high 15 rebounds, and sophomore center LiWayne Richardson had 11 points for UVI.
Chris Morris led Morris (1-0) with a game-high 19 points, Armani Thomas added 14 points and Elijah Jackson came off the bench to score 13 points.
The second half. The Buccaneers got off to a slow start, trailing 17-5 eight minutes into the first half, and going out of the period down 30-18.
But it was a different story to open the second half, with UVI — down 32-18 at the 18 minute, 54 second mark — scored 12 unanswered points to cut the Hornets’ lead to 32-30 with 14:48 remaining.
Richardson had five points during the run, with Norris scoring three and Chris Williams and Jaren Johnson adding two points each.
However, that’s as close as the Buccaneers would get — Morris College responded with a 21-9 run over the next nine minutes, with Jackson’s 3-pointer putting the Hornets back up 14 at 53-39 with 5:38 left.
UVI would get no closer than nine points the rest of the game, and that only came in the final 30 seconds.
Jamal Norris, University of the Virgin Islands: The 6-foot-4 forward scored 14 points in the second half as the Buccaneers overcame their first-game jitters. He didn’t shoot that well (6 of 17 from the field, and 1 of 8 on 3-pointers), but was 5 of 6 on free throws. He also had five rebounds.
Chris Morris, Morris College: No relation to the college’s namesake, but he should be the “big man on campus” after Friday’s win. He made 7 of 19 from the field (2 of 8 on 3s) and 3 for 3 on free throws, and added five rebounds, two assists and two steals.
• UVI actually had some better raw shooting numbers than Morris College — 20 of 48 from the field for the Buccaneers (41.7%) to 22 of 63 by the Hornets (34.9%). But break out the teams’ 3-point shooting and free throws, and things look much different. UVI made just 1 of 13 3-pointers, while Morris made 9 of 36. At the line, the Bucs made 10 of 26 (38.5%), while the Hornets made 7 of 11 (63.6%).
• With a pair of 6-10 centers in Boyd and Richardson, UVI enjoyed a decided advantage in rebounding, finishing with 47 boards to 32 for Morris. But that size advantage didn’t lead to many points for the Buccaneers — just 15 second-chance points, and only two points scored in the paint.
• One area the Hornets were dominant in Friday’s game was their offense from their reserves. Morris College’s bench, led by Jackson, outscored UVI’s reserves 23-5 — all scored by Johnson.
The Buccaneers wrap up their season-opening road trip with a rematch against Morris College at 4 p.m. today in Sumter, S.C.