Coppin State broke away from a tenacious University of Maryland Eastern Shore during a three-minute spell in the second half and pulled away to an 87-63 triumph at the Coppin Center last night.
Coppin (6-8, 2-1) had threatened to open a gap on a couple of earlier occasions, but this time the Eagles made sure. Larry Stewart had two baskets and a free throw in a 9-2 burst that built a 52-40 lead with 13 minutes left.
When Larry McCollum made two foul shots with 9 minutes, 50 seconds left, it gave the home team a 57-45 lead, and the margin did not dip below that the rest of the way.
The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference victory by Coppin State was its 17th in a row at home (four this year) over three seasons and the ninth straight over UMES (3-10, 1-3).
Stewart, a 6-foot-8 forward, scored from practically every angle around the basket and finished with 27 points, his second-highest total of the season, and 15 rebounds. He averages 20 and 12, respectively.
The inside players for UMES did a good job of staying with the likes of seniors McCollum and Stewart for a while, but first-year coach Bob Hopkins admitted: "They got easier points than we did.
"We worked hard, but they got a lot of second shots and three-point plays. We're still working with a lot of young people."
That included two starters in the backcourt, sophomore Dondre Phoenix and freshman Shawn Johnson. In addition, the Hawks were without starter Darrick Purnell (Carver), suspended for the game after not returning with the team to Princess Anne after Saturday night's game at Morgan State.
The Hawks also lost senior guard Sean Salisbury (Southern-Anne Arundel) five minutes into the second half, when he leaped for a rebound, was bumped and landed on his back.
He told the trainer his lower back was numb, but there was feeling in both legs and he was able to hobble to the sideline. He was taken to Maryland General Hospital for X-rays and evaluation.