Coppin ready for first-place showdown


January 28, 1991|By Jerry Bembry

When Coppin State previously traveled to Dover, Del., for a game against Delaware State, the Eagles had an 11-game winning streak and were dominating the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

That was the only game Coppin lost in the MEAC last season. Coppin (10-8, 6-1) travels to Dover tomorrow for a showdown for first place with Delaware State (12-5, 5-1).

The league-leading Eagles set the showdown with Saturday's 78-63 win at Howard. Larry Stewart and Reggie Isaac each scored 26, as the Eagles, who lost their conference opener at South Carolina State, won their sixth straight game.

"I'm just glad to get that 'W,' " said Coppin coach Fang Mitchell, whose team wasn't particularly sharp against the MEAC's last-place team. "That crowd was loud, and it was rough playing there."

The Eagles will face a similar crowd at the 2,000-seat Delaware State gym.

"The crowd is right on top of you there, and it's a big game because a lot of our players, and many of theirs, are from the Philadelphia area," Mitchell said. "All the kids know each other, and it's a big rivalry. Both teams will play hard."

The Eagles are home Saturday against Howard.

* Towson State (10-6) is the other state Division I team on top of its league, with a 6-0 record in the East Coast Conference. The latest ECC victim was University of Maryland Baltimore County, 83-68, Saturday.

It was Towson coach Terry Truax's 100th win, but hardly a player knew about the milestone.

"I don't think this team ever got together and said, 'Let's do something for the coach,' " Truax (100-121 in his eighth season) said jokingly. "Seriously, I don't think anyone knew. I don't even think my wife knows.

"I'm just delighted the win came at Towson State because the school gave me time to build a program," Truax said. "I'm pleased to give something back."

Two years ago, he reached another milestone unbeknown to his players.

"It was at Rider, and they were 0-7 in the league and we were in first place and they beat us," Truax recalled. "Coming back on the bus, [sports information director] Pete Schlehr came up to me and said, 'Coach, this probably isn't a good time to bring this up, but this was your 100th loss.' "

nTC * Although UMBC coach Earl Hawkins wasn't too happy after his team was out-rebounded, 50-32 -- and allowed 24 offensive rebounds -- in the loss to Towson, he has to be pleased with the return of Derrick Reid.

The 6-foot-7 senior forward played 18 minutes and scored eight points, but his presence can only help a team that Thursday broke a 14-game losing streak. Reid had missed nine games with a blood clot and a viral infection.

"I don't think he's in the greatest of shape," Hawkins said. "It'll take some time."

* When Loyola beat Iona, 66-65, in overtime at Reitz Arena on Saturday, it was a classic example -- said Loyola forward George Sereikas -- of a last-place team not getting any respect.

The Greyhounds (7-10, 1-6) entered the game winless in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, and Iona (9-10, 5-3) was second.

"I think we caught them by surprise," the 6-foot-7 backup center said. "You could tell during warm-ups they were taking us lightly."

Guard Tracy Bergan hit a three-pointer with 27 seconds left in regulation to tie the game, and then Kevin Green (18 points) made a steal and a layup that gave Loyola the win.

Sereikas (12 points) also had a key play in that comeback, a power dunk that got Loyola to within 65-64 with 24 seconds left in overtime and set up Green's steal.

"It's not something you think about. I just went strong to the board, and the opportunity was there," said Sereikas, who averages 3.3 points. "Afterward, I couldn't believe I'd done it. It was the adrenalin."

* Navy (6-12, 2-5) broke a five-game losing streak by shooting 65 percent in the second half of Saturday's 94-82 win at American. Guard John Haase scored 24 -- nine of 15 from the field -- and the Midshipmen scored the game's final eight.

The Midshipmen had not shot 40 percent from the field in the losing streak but shot 44 percent against American.

"We were taking the same shots," Haase said. "This game we had a little more confidence.

* Morgan State (4-14 overall, 3-5 in the MEAC) won for the third time in its past four games Saturday, beating UMES, 79-63. It avenged a Jan. 12 loss at Hill Field House that had extended Morgan's losing streak to 14 games.

"We were a lot more patient and played better defense," Morgan coach Michael Holmes said. "The first Eastern Shore game was our first home game, and we were coming off 13 straight losses. The basic difference is that we've learned a lot from our losses, and we've improved each time out."

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