Life Without Larry wasn't nearly as troublesome for the Coppin State basketball team last night.
The Eagles overcame the loss of suspended point guard Larry Yarbray and started a new home-court winning streak by tripping American University in overtime, 92-87, at the Coppin Center.
It was their second start without Yarbray, who was suspended three games for missing three practices. On the first occasion the Eagles played without him, they had a 24-game home-court skein snapped by Maine Tuesday night.
This time, Coppin awoke after a sluggish first half, pressed its way into the lead and then dominated the overtime against another Eagles team that has been weakened by injuries and a defection.
"They stress me out, but that goes with youth," Coppin coach Fang Mitchell said of his team. "We were supposed to be aggressive the whole game, but it took them 20 minutes to understand that."
Mitchell's team was down 45-35 early in the second half, but outscored American 25-10 in the next 10 minutes and forged ahead by five.
But the Washington-based Eagles countered with freshman Tim Fudd scoring three key baskets and regained command, 69-62.
American stayed in front until 43 seconds remained in regulation when James Mazyck sank a three-pointer to tie the score at 73 and force the overtime.
Both teams blocked shots -- by Coppin's Darren Woods and American's Craig Sedmak -- to deny the opposition's final foray in regulation.
Woods hit the first two baskets of overtime to gain the lead for Coppin and Michael Johnson scored on two breakaways to put Mitchell's team in control. AU never got closer than five the rest of the way.
"Mazyck did a wonderful job," said Mitchell. "And I think American got a little tired at the end."
Coppin won the game at the free-throw line, hitting 26 of 31 to compensate for 37.5 percent shooting from the field.
But it was the defense that wore down American, victim of its fourth straight loss. Those Eagles were hurt by the ineffectiveness of Sedmak, the second leading scorer, who is bothered by a knee problem and settled for five points.
As for Yarbray, he will continue to practice and return next week after Coppin visits Oklahoma tomorrow for its toughest road game of the season.
"He has some extra running to do," Mitchell said of Yarbray. "If he wasn't a good kid, I don't think we'd bring him back. But he understands what the rules are we made, and he has done a lot for this program."
Meantime, the team secured what Mitchell called "a real big win."
"We need to get these kind," he said. "It wouldn't have been the end of the world, but the attitude is so important on a team like this."