UVI squads lose home openers

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ST. THOMAS ­- The University of the Virgin Islands men's and women's basketball teams both came up short Friday night in their 2013 home openers against the Caribbean University Gryphons.

The Lady Buccaneers, led by sophomore guard Melanesia Hendrickson, fell to the Gryphons in the opener, 69-49, despite a strong start. The Lady Bucs took a 15-14 lead over the Gryphons after the first quarter. However, by the end of the half, they had fallen behind, 36-22. After mustering only nine points in the third quarter, the Lady Buccaneers scored 18 in the fourth, but by that point, the game had already gotten out of reach.

Hendrickson, the Lady Bucs' leading scorer with 22 points, was disappointed with the team's lack of intensity in the second quarter:

"We played good, but we could have played better," she said. "We didn't come out with the right enthusiasm for a home game, but my teammates gave it what they had. We did our best."

The Lady Bucs (0-2 in Liga Atlética Interuniversitaria play) are a young team, with three sophomores in the starting lineup. They also made some "young mistakes," according to assistant coach Angelina Prince.

"We turned over the ball during inappropriate times," she said. "Our intensity level wasn't where it should have been. We've got some work to do, but I feel like there's going to be some positive changes taking place this season."

The Lady Bucs made 16 field goals and shot 5-of-12 from the free-throw line.

Caribbean University was led by Rivera Agosto and Monet Rivera, each with 22 points.

With today's game against the University of Puerto Rico-Bayamón, coach Prince expects another tough game.

"I anticipate tomorrow's game is going to be a challenge. So long as our ladies can do the basics consistently, then there's definitely the chance that we can at least put forth a good match up," said Prince.

The UVI men's team was dealt a heartbreaking loss in the nightcap, losing to Caribbean University, 74-69.

Despite leading 13-11 after the first quarter, the Bucs were unable to fend off the Gryphons as they were out-scored, 25-14, in the second quarter. A strong second half - scoring 27 in the third quarter and 15 in the fourth -wasn't enough to overcome the Gryphons.

The Buccaneers (3-4 overall, 0-2 LAI) had a poor night at the line, connecting on only 24-of-37 free-throw attempts. Rebounding was also an issue in the game.

Down 72-69 with about eight seconds left, UVI was once gain unable to come up with an offensive rebound to give themselves a chance to tie the game. Instead, they were forced to foul the Gryphons.

"The first half, we didn't even come out to play basketball. Everyone was un-energetic. We let them out-rebound us," said head coach Ryan Skinner. "It's tough, but our guys need to regroup, get together. They fought hard, but unfortunately, things didn't go our way. I feel like we're a better team than we exhibited today."

UVI was led by freshman forward Raydell Dennis, who had 13 points. Dennis anticipates a hard-fought game tonight against University of Puerto Rico-Bayamón.

"Tomorrow, basically, we need to work on our defense, more rebounding. I think we played good today on offense. We didn't turn over the ball," said Dennis. "All we have got to do is play hard."

It was an even offensive performance for UVI, who had four other players score in double digits.

Saledo Rivera paced Caribbean University with 20 points.

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