Coppin State learned what life without Larry Yarbray was all about last night. It was not pleasant.
Minus Yarbray, suspended indefinitely by coach Fang Mitchell for missing basketball practices without explanation, the Eagles (1-1) lost to Maine (3-2), 69-66, ending their home-court winning streak at 24.
Coppin came within an eyelash of pulling it out. The Eagles trailed, 67-63, when Cleon Dickerson, a graduate of Cardinal Gibbons, stole the ball and passed to James Mazyck, who made a three-pointer with 15 seconds left.
Fritz Marseille then clinched it for Maine on a dunk with six seconds remaining.
The Eagles' 24-game winning streak at the Coppin Center started with three victories at the end of the 1988-89 season and continued through last week's opening triumph over Winthrop College.
Yarbray, the senior point guard and Coppin's all-time assist leader, was yanked from last Tuesday's win over Winthrop after missing all four of his shots and committing three turnovers.
When he failed to show up for the next three practices, Mitchell felt he had no choice but to suspend him. The suspicion is that Yarbray is rankled by the benching.
"People have asked me if Yarbray got the message after benched him," Mitchell said. "If he's blaming me for the benching, then, no, he didn't get it."
Yarbray reportedly went to his home in Chester, Pa., for Thanksgiv
ing. He was on campus Monday for classes and spoke to assistant coach Derek Brown, expressing an interest in talking to Mitchell.
"I haven't talked to him yet, but I will tomorrow [today], at least I'llisten," Mitchell said. "This is the first time in my [13-year] career I've had a kid do this. I'm not going to speculate if he's going to return. My concern is with the guys who are on the team now."
The up-to-date tally on Yarbray is four practices missed and one game, last night's.
Mitchell was braced to play the season without the departed Larry Stewart and Reggie Isaac. He didn't expect to have to struggle along without Yarbray. The Eagles entered the season with eight first-year players and only six veterans.
CStill, Mitchell has been less than thrilled with Yarbray's play. He wants the senior to act like the sophomore of two years ago who averaged 8.9 points and 7.3 assists and was named to the all-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference second team.
In Yarbray's absence, Tariq Saunders paced Coppin with 19 points and Mazyck, the new point guard, added 15. Marty Higgins had 14 for Maine.
"We made some mental mistakes down the stretch," Mitchell said. "We weren't patient and didn't take good shots. That'll happen with a young team. They gave the effort I'm looking for, and when you see that, you're not as upset."
Next for the Eagles is American University tomorrow night at the Coppin Center.