There are just fleeting moments when Alico Dunk wants to take a glance at last season.
One of those came Thursday on the heels of his Elizabeth City State women’s basketball team’s 96-86 win against defending Division II national champion Shaw.
After the victory in the team’s CIAA opener, Dunk can be pleased with his club’s improvement to begin 2013 after injuries and close defeats marked a 13-14 finish in 2011-12.
One of the close defeats came to Shaw, and another came to today’s opponent in St. Augustine’s.
The Lady Vikings would like to better serve last season’s memories to the past with another strong effort today against the Lady Falcons.
The 5:30 p.m. game is the second of three-straight CIAA contests at the R.L. Vaughan Center, with the third Monday against Fayetteville State.
“I don’t like thinking about last year, because we had so much bad luck,” Dunk said. “But we did grow from that as a coaching staff and as a team. All of the returning players remember last year and they wanted to be resilient and bounce back from it. We’re doing a good job of it so far.”
ECSU (9-2, 1-0 CIAA) beat the Lady Falcons (4-5) in the regular season last year, but lost to St. Aug’s in the first round of the CIAA Tournament 49-46 to finish its season below .500.
That setback remains fresh in guard Shatara Jackson’s mind, who missed the second half of last season due to injury. Beating Shaw was just another step to more respect throughout the CIAA.
“It matters a little bit (beating the defending champions), but we’re more concerned with trying to win the CIAA,” Jackson said. “Every year we get in it and we lose in the first round, and I think right now we’re trying to prove to people that we have that team that can go all the way.
“This lets people know we’re here to play.”
In the last encounter with the Lady Falcons, the Lady Vikings managed just 11 first half points. The team has made those offensive struggles fade away, as ECSU has averaged 80 points a game in its nine victories.
Against Shaw on Thursday, the Lady Vikings got a combined 52 points from Jackson and Stephanie Harper, and double figure scoring from Jasmine Whitehurst, DaShera Boone and Shawnte Taylor. As a team, ECSU shot 73 percent in the second half to torch the Lady Bears.
“We have great balance and that’s the one thing when you scout us you can’t just say, ‘We’ll stop Stephanie, or stop Shatara,’ you have to stop the entire team,” Dunk said.
A collective effort was on display Thursday, and was needed when the Lady Bears took a two-point lead at halftime and two ECSU guards, Boone and Derricka Henry, had three fouls.
Jackson took care of more ball-handling duties, and Taylor provided a lift from the bench with 11 points in 20 minutes of play.
Dunk wants more complete team play today as well as throughout the CIAA slate of games. That way any visions of last season could be forgotten.
“Every day you have to come out and play whether you have one day to get ready for the next or five days,” Dunk said. “You have to find a way to make your kids respond, and we’ll respond.”