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.

Turning point

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.

Key players

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.

Observations

• 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.

Up next

The Buccaneers wrap up their season-opening road trip with a rematch against Morris College at 4 p.m. today in Sumter, S.C.

Contact Sports Editor Bill Kiser at 340-714-9117, or email bkiser@dailynews.vi.