NEWS, NOTES &
The Bradsher Beat
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
By Bethany Bradsher
New stars step up for Lady
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(Photo: ECU SID)
Ashley Clarke remembers vividly how knotted her nerves were when she took
the court for her first Division I game. It was, after all, only a year ago.
But on Friday, as the East Carolina Lady Pirates made their entrance and
prepared to face UNC-Charlotte in their season opener, the sophomore guard
felt only adrenaline as she took her starting position.
When the final buzzer had sounded, Clarke had moved herself decisively out
of the rookie column with a career-high 22 points.
The Lady Pirates put a boldface letter on the front of their season that
night with an 84-61 win over a 49ers team that won the Atlantic 10
Tournament in March. But Clarke wasn’t done with her opening act.
On Sunday, Western Carolina came to Minges, and Clarke was the Pirates’ top
scorer with 20 points en route to a 70-59 ECU victory. It was an outstanding
one-two punch and a confidence builder for Clarke and her team, who face UNC-Wilmington
Thursday in their third straight home contest.
"We came out with a lot of intensity both games, and defensive stops,”
Clarke said. “The biggest key this year is playing as a team.”
Every Lady Pirate knew that the season’s biggest challenge would be rising
above the loss of guards LaCoya Terry and Jasmine Young, the team’s two top
scorers who combined to average nearly 30 points a game in 2008-’09. Clarke
may only be a sophomore, but she is carrying part of that backcourt burden
on her shoulders.
“With losing Jasmine and LaCoya, someone has got to be step up to be a
leader,” said Clarke, who averaged 3.7 points off the bench last year as a
Clarke came to ECU from a standout career at Myrtle Beach High School, and
she chose to become a Pirate because she connected with the coaches and
thought their aggressive defense and energetic style of play was a perfect
complement to her strengths. In high school, she was the conference player
of the year for three straight years.
Leadership is also coming from fellow guard Allison Spivey — who also had a
career-high against UNCC with a team-leading 25 points — junior forward Kim
Gay, sophomore forward Chareya Smith and sophomore center Jean Best, who
worked her way into the starting lineup last season and averaged 8.4 points
The team’s offensive strength is its ability to score from any position on
the floor, said head coach Baldwin-Tener, who instituted a new offense this
season to optimize her personnel.
Since the 2007 squad qualified for the NCAA Tournament, the Pirate Nation
has followed the women’s basketball program with increasing fervency. The
crowds may not be as large as those at the men’s games, but they are loud
Baldwin-Tener’s hope is that Minges Coliseum will become increasingly
well-known in Conference USA and beyond as a venue where opposing teams
For her part, Clarke hopes that attendance will increase for every home
game, starting Thursday against regional rival UNC-Wilmington. The Lady
Pirates are ECU’s only undefeated team, and the fans can be a factor to help
them stay that way — especially when six of their first seven games are on
their home court.
“I think we’ll keep bringing in the crowd,” she said.
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11/18/2009 05:05 AM