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V.I. WOMEN LOSE BUT MAKE IT INTO MEDAL ROUND

CHRIST CHURCH, Barbados — The Virgin Islands Women's team followed their male counterparts into the medal round of the Caricom Basketball Championships on Thursday, even though the squad lost 79-77 to defending champion Bahamas.
The Virgin Islands women, playing in international competition for the first time in 26 years, finished the preliminary round in a three-way tie for third place with Trinidad & Tobago and the Bahamas. The Virgin Islands and Trinidad earned spots in the four-team semifinal based on point differential.
The Bahamas came into Thursday's game needing to beat the Virgin Islands by four or more points to eliminate the Virgin Islands and earn the fourth semifinal spot. The Bahamas held a 15-point lead when Virgin Islands star center Tajama Abraham fouled out at the 11-minute mark of the second half. The Virgin Islands, which trailed by 22 points in the first half, battled back to cut the deficit to two points when Lynia Liburd scored a layup from a steal with eight seconds remaining.
"I'm elated," said V.I. head coach Albert Hazard of the two-point loss. "I came in to win this game. This was a total team effort. I had never been in this situation before."
Even though the team lost, Liburd, a Ivanna Eudora Kean High School senior, said she is proud of the effort the team put forward, especially playing without two starters.
The Virgin Islands came back without Abraham, a former WNBA star, who dominated in the low post. With five minutes remaining, D'Mour King, the starting point guard, fouled out.
Reserve Nicole Bergan, an ex-Charlotte Amalie High School star, hit three crucial free throws in the final minute. Reshawnda Richardson, a Cal State Northridge guard, stepped up, hitting six points in the final five minutes.
Natasha Lettsome led the Virgin Islands with 25 points. Abraham had 15 points before fouling out and King scored 11.
The Virgin Islands, 2-3, will take on top-seeded Barbados at 5 p.m. Friday. Trinidad & Tobago will play Jamaica in the other semifinal game at 3 p.m. at the Wildey Gym at the Sir Garfield Sobers Gym.
The Virgin Islands men secured a top seed in the medal round with a Wednesday night victory over Trinidad & Tobago.

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