In the last 28 minutes of Elizabeth City State’s women’s basketball game with Fayetteville State Monday, the Lady Vikings outscored the visitors by 12 points.
But it didn’t matter.
Fayetteville State left the R.L. Vaughan Center with a 75-70 win anyway.
From the ECSU standpoint, blame the opening 12 minutes, when the Lady Broncos (11-2 overall, 3-0 CIAA) raced to a 29-12 lead in a game matching two of the conference’s top teams.
“Never thought that could happen like that,” Lady Vikings’ junior forward De’Rya Wylie said after ECSU fell to 10-3, 2-1. “But we didn’t execute. We weren’t aggressive. We couldn’t knock down shots, not even layups.”
Not in the early going, anyway.
ECSU, which made only one of its first 16 shots from the floor, eventually got its act together in stretches and closed to within 33-30 at the half.
In the second half, the Lady Vikings actually took the lead six times, the last on a free throw by Wylie that made it 64-63 with 2:50 left in the game.
“We fought back and got the lead, but then we slacked off, and we should have never done that,” Wylie said. Down the stretch FSU capitalized on some lax defense and an 8-for-8 effort at the foul line to decide the issue.
Elizabeth City State coach Alico Dunk felt his team, which finished the game shooting 38 percent from the floor, was lacking at the start and the finish.
“It was both,” he said. “We came out flat and never got in a rhythm. For a game of this magnitude, I thought we’d be more ready to play.
“We played OK in spurts, but in the end we didn’t make the little hustle plays and they did. Give Fayetteville credit, they wanted it more.”
Lady Vikings point guard Shatara Jackson acknowledged that ECSU was not ready to play when the game started.
“It’s always quiet in the locker room before the game, but we really came out flat this time,” she said. “I don’t know what it was. And once you get behind like that, it’s really hard to play catchup.
“It wears you out at the end of the game. You could see that when we made all those fouls.”
ECSU was so out of it for much of the first half that Jackson, their leading scorer on the season, did not get off a shot until eight minutes before intermission and had just four points at the break. In the second half, however, Jackson was seemingly everywhere as she and Wylie carried the team. Jackson poured in 12 of her 16 points in the last 20 minutes. Five of her baskets reclaimed leads for the Lady Vikings.
The 5-8 Wylie, meanwhile, made six of eight shots in the second half, scoring a team-high 18 points. She also had five rebounds and three steals as she battled mightily against Fayetteville 6-1 frontcourt players Shuanda Ashford (21 points, seven rebounds) and Tierra Coleman (nine points, 11 rebounds).
Wylie’s contribution was particularly important because the Lady Vikings were without Shawnte Taylor, a 5-11 fiery inside presence who suffered a broken nose in Saturday’s win over St. Augustine’s.
“We definitely missed the energy that Shawnte brings to the game, but De’Rya really stepped up to meet the challenge,” Dunk said. “She made some plays.”
Overall, however, the Lady Vikings did not make enough of them and they are now headed for a stretch of five straight road games after going 7-1 at home to open the season.
Dunk said ECSU needs to regroup.
“This is the CIAA, there are no easy games,” he said. “You can’t ever take a night off.
“We’re all going to have to do a better job and that includes me as a coach.”