LYNCHBURG, Va. | The players at Colorado and on seven other teams didn’t get the trip to the U.S. Virginia Islands they expected when they saw their schedules for the year.
The Paradise Jam, normally held in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, was moved to Liberty’s Vines Center because of hurricane damage.
George King, however, made sure the Buffs still made the most of their trip to Virginia. He had 25 points and eight rebounds and Colorado stretched at halftime lead to double figures Sunday night on its way to a 79-70 victory against Mercer in the championship of the Paradise Jam.
“It was great. Obviously we weren’t able to play in the U.S. Virgin Islands, but we still had the same opportunity to come out here and win three games in three days and play at a high level,” King said. “I have a lot of respect for Mercer. They gave us their all, but we were able to come out with the win.”
Deleon Brown and Namon Wright each added 13 points for the Buffs (5-0). Colorado led 39-37 at halftime and shot 54 percent in the second 20 minutes, gradually extending its lead to as many as 13. The Buffs turned 14 turnovers by Mercer into 21 points and outscored them 23-12 from the free-throw line.
Playing their third game in as many days, Buffs coach Tad Boyle was impressed by their determination, especially on the defensive end.
“Our guys really dug in defensively in the second half and kept getting stops,” he said. “And we scored the ball. We shot the ball well in the second half. I thought we showed great patience, great confidence. Our guys managed time and score down the stretch well.”
Demetre Rivers scored 14 and Ria’n Holland had 13 for the Bears (4-2).
Colorado first led by 13 at 64-51 with 9:24 remaining, and never let the Bears closer than seven the rest of the way.
Also Sunday, tournament host Liberty announced it had collected $15,154 during the tournament that will be donated to hurricane relief efforts in the U.S. Virginia Islands.
Mercer: Plays host to Hiwassee on Sunday.
Colorado: Meets visiting Air Force on Sunday.