The University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) Buccaneers men’s basketball team has now won three games in a row after defeating the Bearcats of Rust College in a 63-61 nail bitter at the Elridge Blake Sports and Fitness Center on Alumni night Thursday evening.

The Buccaneers earned the win on the night that honored the past, celebrated the present, and welcomed the future Buccaneers to the University’s campus. Special honorees on the night included the 2003 ODI Conference champion Lady Buccaneers team as their banner was unveiled in the arena, as well as the venue’s namesake, Mr. Elridge Wilburn Blake who was credited with the creation of UVI athletics.

UVI (7-14, 5-10 GCAC) jumped out to an early 9-6 lead and controlled the opening period versus conference foes. The Buccaneers began to pull away with a 10-4 run which would give them their largest lead of the evening (19-10). Rust battled back, however, to bring the lead down to just three points as they trailed 27-24 at the half.

The second half opened with UVI leading but the Buccaneers quickly found themselves behind as they trailed 40-39 at the 13-minute mark giving the Bearcats their first lead of the night. The two teams would battle back and forth as they traded baskets which would set the stage for a thrilling end.

Offensively, the Buccaneers turned to junior forward Nico Thomas and graduate forward Maurice Smith, Jr. Both players shot 100% from the field in the second half. Thomas shot 5-for-5 from the field, meanwhile, Smith, Jr. went 6-for-6 from the field and 3-for-3 from behind the arc. Thomas scored a season-high 14 points, while Smith, Jr. got hot at the right moment for his team as he scored 18 of his 22 points in the half.

 With his team trailing by one point 61-60, Thomas scored the go-ahead basket on an and-one layup to take the lead with only four seconds left in regulation (62-61). The 6-foot-5 forward from Fresno, California put the game away with a free throw to complete the three-point play. A missed full-court heave on the ensuing possession by Rust secured the win for the Buccaneers.

 Smith Jr, finished the game with 22 points and 12 rebounds, giving him his seventh double-double on the year for UVI.

Naythan Shaw-Clarke added 10 points and nine rebounds, one grab shy of recording his second double-double of the season.

For Rust, Jordin Jackson had 18 points.

On Saturday, February 17, UVI will host Tougaloo College for their final regular-season game in an attempt to extend the current win streak to four games. In their last matchup, the Bulldogs cruised to an 80-51 win over the Buccaneers. Action tips off at 6 p.m. at the Sports and Fitness Center.


About UVI Athletics

The University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and, as of July 1, 2023, competes in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC). Entering the 2023-24 season, the Buccaneers will begin their 17th season of athletic competition. As the only Historically Black College or University (HBCU) in the Caribbean, UVI currently sponsors six sports, including men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s basketball, and men’s and women’s outdoor track and field. For more information on UVI Athletics, visit