The NCAA men’s division I basketball season tipped off Friday night and Bahamian players were at the center of upsets and thrilling finishes across the country.
Mike Carey Jr and his Wagner Seahawks may have pulled off the most impressive win over the weekend with their 67-68 upset win over the No. 18 ranked UConn Huskies.
Carey, the senior guard and second team all NEC standout, showed his trademark versatility in his stat line with seven points, six rebounds, two assists and four steals.
It was just the second time the Seahawks defeated a ranked programme and it was its first win over the Huskies.
The Seahawks had a surprisingly commanding lead in the second half before the Huskies rallied on a 12-0 run to tie the game.
Wagner responded with an 18-9 run to put the game out of reach for good.
“Absolutely, this is an upset,” Wagner head coach Bashir Mason said, “UConn is the 18th ranked team in the country. Probably nobody in the world thought that we would win the game, except myself, my players and our small little school up on the hill. This is great for us.”
Wagner remains on the road tonight when they face the Massachusetts-Lowell Red Hawks.
Over in the Armed Forces Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii, Lourawls “Tum Tum” Nairn Jr. and his No.12 Michigan State Spartans were on the opposite end of a thrilling finish with a 65-63 loss to the No.10 Arizona Wildcats.
Nairn made a three pointer with just seven seconds left to play to tie things at 63 and seemingly force overtime.
Arizona’s Kadeem Allen raced the length of the floor to finish a buzzer beating runner and give his team the win.
Nairn finished with five points, four assists and three rebounds on the night.
His first three point make came early in the season opener after he made just three all of last year.
The Spartans strong early season schedule continues tomorrow night when they face the second ranked team in the country and national championship contender, the Kentucky Wildcats.
In the Sun Belt Conference, Travis Munnings looked comfortable in his first outing as the leader of his University of Louisiana Munroe Warhawks.
He finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds in the Warhawks’ 96-67 win over the Cennetary Gentlemen.
Fellow Bahamian Prince Cooper finished with two points in four minutes.
“Defensively, I thought we did pretty well in the first half but it is still going to be a work in progress in each game but it was encouraging to see positives today,” Warhawks head coach Keith Richard said, “Travis Munnings is a year further along and he controls the ball a lot better as an all-around player. He is a better all-around player and is a key piece of this team for the upcoming season.”
In the American Athletic Conference, Danrad Knowles stepped into the starting lineup for the Houston Cougars and got off to a promising start.
Knowles finished with 14 points and seven rebounds in the Cougars’ 93-52 win over the Morgan State Bears.
“It still feels the same way, I am kind of used to it,” Knowles said about being inserted into the starting lineup, “Coach (Sampson) just wants me to be aggressive every time I play, so I just continued to be aggressive. That’s my job.”
In the Big 12, Shaquille Cleare got the start for the Texas Longhorns and fouled out with five points and three rebounds in his team’s 76-73 win over Incarnate Word.
Dwight Coleby and the Kansas Jayhawks lost the first season opener of the Bill Self era when they dropped a 103-99 decision in overtime to the Indiana Hoosiers.
Nathan Bain finished with five points in his Stephen F Austin Lumberjacks’ 87-64 loss to the Kentucky Wildcats.
Lynrick Moxey and the Western Illinois Fighting Leathernecks lost 82-55 to the Kansas State Wildcats.
On the women’s side of NCAA Division I basketball, the Bahamas has had one coach continuing her team’s win streak and one player setting new career highs.
Coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin has led her Jacksonville Dolphins off to a 2-0 start in their quest to repeat as Atlantic Sun champions.
They posted a 69-63 win over Bethune Cookman yesterday.
“As a team, we obviously wanted to give more on the defensive end for an entire 40 minutes, but today, our toughness was tested and we prevailed.”
In game one they scored a 100-43 win over Thomas University.
The Dolphins return to action Thursday, November 17 when they head to Tallahassee to take on No. 12 Florida State. Opening tip is scheduled for 6 pm.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to play these type of teams,” McCuin said. “We are going to see where we measure up, the decision will not define us. We’re going to go out and give our best effort.”
In the SEC, Shanea Armbrister and the Georgia Bulldogs are also off to a 2-0 start this season and the Bahamian forward has taken on a much bigger role in the offence.
In game one she finished with right points and 10 rebounds in the season opening 64-50 win over South Carolina State.
It was her first career start and she set new highs for rebounds, minutes played and assists.
In game two, Armbrister finished with six points, eight assists and two steals in Georgia’s 72-64 win over Mercer.
She again set a season high, this time in assists.