Coppin holds Oklahoma ... for a half

December 11, 1990|By Burl Spencer | Burl Spencer,Special to The Evening Sun

NORMAN, Okla. -- When Coppin State coach Fang Mitchell made out the Eagles' 1990-91 basketball schedule, he wanted one that would toughen his team for a hopeful repeat trip to the NCAA tournament.

So he scheduled road trips to New Mexico and Oklahoma. "I heard New Mexico and Oklahoma were the toughest places in the nation to play," Mitchell said, "the most hostile crowds. I guess we should've gone to Missouri."

Oklahoma's Lloyd Noble Center, filled with a scattered and lethargic crowd, may have been particularly surprised by the Eagles' mettle. For en route to its fourth road loss in five games, Coppin State gave No. 13 Oklahoma all it could handle in the first half of a 98-79 Sooners win last night.

"We had a game plan," Mitchell said. "I was looking for us to win. We wanted to take away their inside game and make them shoot the three-point shot with a hand in their face. They are a very difficult team to play. We just hoped they wouldn't shoot tremendously well.

"But we made a lot of turnovers. The first half was critical for us."

Reggie Isaac scored a team-high 27 points, but 21 were in the first half when the Eagles (1-4) also committed 13 of their 17 turnovers. Oklahoma's Brent Price and Kermit Holmes scored 27 and 23 points, respectively, for the Sooners (7-1).

But it wasn't that easy for Oklahoma. The Sooners led just 44-42 with two minutes gone in the second half. Larry Stewart, who finished with 24 points -- 18 in the second half -- snatched up a loose ball for a dunk and Michael Johnson scored in the lane to narrow Oklahoma's lead.

But Holmes scored 10 points and Price six in the next seven minutes as the Sooners pulled ahead 68-52.

Illness and fouls hampered Coppin. Slowed by the flu, starting point guard Larry Yarbray was 0-for-3 from the field and finished with three points. And, backup center Larry McCollum left the game after picking up his fourth foul early in the second half and fouled out with 4:58 left.

Coppin State never had the lead, but stayed within a basket or two of the Sooners throughout the first half. Isaac carried the load, hitting eight of 12 shots from the field in the first stanza -- four of five from three-point range.

The Eagles pulled within three with 20 seconds left in the half when McCollum hit a pair of free throws, but a basket by Oklahoma's Jeff Webster and a technical foul on the Coppin State bench padded the halftime lead to 44-37.

Isaac was ineffective after intermission. The Sooners' Terrence Mullins stayed inside Isaac's shirt for the rest of the night, holding the senior guard to 2-of-7 shooting.

Oklahoma shot just 41 percent from the field compared to 44 percent for Coppin State, but the Sooners outrebounded the Eagles 51-40.

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