There’s a certain comfort in playing home for the first time in 19 days.
At least it carries meaning to Elizabeth City State women’s basketball coach Alico Dunk.
“It’s a good feeling just to sleep in our own bed,” Dunk said. “Those are the things you miss the most after playing in hostile environments.”
While the Lady Vikings have prospered anyway during their five-game road swing, winning them all, Shawn Walker and his ECSU men have been up-and-down no matter the location.
Both get to compete again in the R.L. Vaughan Center today for Winter Homecoming against Virginia State. The Lady Vikings will start at 3 p.m. with the men following at 5.
ECSU’s women (15-3, 7-1 CIAA) have fought off each road challenge and return to Elizabeth city on a tear, winning eight of their last nine games. Oddly enough, the CIAA North Division leader’s last defeat was in its last home game, a 75-70 loss to Fayetteville State on Jan. 7.
For the Viking men (11-7, 4-4), also tops in the CIAA North, the team’s 5-4 home mark tells Walker that it’s not as much of an advantage. In its last five away games, ECSU went 3-2 but have won two-straight at Chowan and Lincoln.
“It’s disappointing to us and to the community that sees us play, and although we’ve played them close, location isn’t that important,” Walker said.
What is important to Walker is more consistency to better help leading scorer Angelo Sharpless. Walker has seen a second scoring option with a number of guys, including Deon Rice and Glenn Patterson, as of late, but still wants more on offense.
Even in Wednesday’s 58-48 win at Lincoln, the Vikings shot 38 percent for the game.
“Our players are not the problem, confidence is,” Walker said. “A lot of it is confidence and finding a way to play more consistent on offense and finding Angelo some help. Finding the basket has become really important.”
The Lady Vikings have relied on some gritty second-half performances in their recent road fortunes, which include a come-from-behind win down 16 at Winston-Salem State and erasing a four-point deficit at Lincoln.
DaShera Boone’s 11 points off the bench, including the go-ahead basket late, preserved the Lincoln victory.
Winning their last four by an average of 4.5 points a game has also helped make the ECSU women battle tested, Dunk said.
“We have found a lot of adversity on the road, and we’ve talked about being a championship team means winning on the road,” Dunk said.