The task for coaches for Elizabeth City State and St. Augustine’s women’s basketball teams Saturday was to downplay winning their CIAA openers Thursday.
Alico Dunk could rest knowing his Lady Vikings got the message in time.
ECSU was pushed throughout but used clutch shooting in the final five minutes to beat the visiting Lady Falcons 70-60. Shatara Jackson followed up Thursday’s career-high 29-point effort against Shaw with 25 for the Lady Vikings (10-2, 2-0 CIAA).
“We just had to find a way,” Dunk said. “They’re well-coached and their kids play hard, and if you don’t match their intensity, you’ll have your hands full. It showed tonight.”
The gritty effort came with some cost. Shawnte Taylor took a hard foul with 11:13 remaining and went face first to the floor. The senior forward likely suffered a concussion and broken nose and was taken off in a stretcher.
“That’s a big-time concern of ours, and she probably won’t play Monday (against Fayetteville State at home),” Dunk said. “We just have to have other people step up and be ready for the challenge.”
Count Jackson as ready. It was high time to put the upset win against Shaw in the past, especially after losing a key contributor in Taylor.
“We just had to keep our cool and basically play for her (Taylor) and stay together as a team,” Jackson said. “At that point we had to step it up a little bit, because we were playing in a comfort zone because we won the other night.”
The Lady Falcons (6-5, 1-1) cut further into ECSU’s lead for a 49-48 score shortly after play resumed. Jackson responded by sinking two free throws, then after Ya’Shonti Bridgers took a charge for a St. Aug’s turnover, the senior point guard rushed down the court for a basket to extend the lead.
It was part of her own 6-0 spurt.
“Shatara is one of the top guards in the CIAA, and I expect her to do that,” Dunk said. “She played very, very well for us tonight, and she was aggressive in attacking the basket. Not only did she attack the basket, she set her teammates up, and that’s what we asked of her.”
Jasmine Whitehurst added 12 points for ECSU, and the Elizabeth City native put in the final dagger with a 3-pointer to make it 70-57 with 1:18 left.
The offense was a far cry from Thursday’s 96-point game against Shaw, but Jackson said it’s all about the win. She was also concerned about players being too pleased after just one CIAA win.
“We don’t have to score 96, but we want to come out with a win,” Jackson said. “We can’t let it get to our heads, and we have more big games coming up. Especially on Monday against Fayetteville State, because they’re a lot like us. I’m sure that will be a big game.”