GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Coppin State lost a 39-minute fight to regain the lead it gave up for good in the first minute of play last night at North Carolina A&T. The Aggies kept a loose grip on the game and held on through the hairy final seconds for an 82-80 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference victory at home.
Coppin scrapped to within a point of the Aggies with 10 seconds left and had a shot at winning, but Cleon Dickerson's jumper from the corner was short with two seconds left and North Carolina A&T controlled the rebound.
Coppin (1-1 in the MEAC) trailed 77-70 with 4:43 to play but closed to 80-78 when Darren Woods hit a 15-footer with 50 seconds left.
North Carolina A&T ran the clock to 22 seconds before Marcus Robinson fouled Bobby Moore, and Moore made the first of two free throws to provide the eventual winning point.
The loss was the third in four games for Coppin, the two-time defending MEAC champion. The Eagles were without their top two point guards: Larry Yarbray, who is expected to miss one week with an ankle injury, and James Mazyck, who was sitting out the third game of a five-game suspension for missing practice.
Woods had 27 points for Coppin, 18 in the second half. Jamaine Williams led North Carolina A&T (2-1 in the MEAC) with 18.
A four-minute stretch of near-perfect play put North Carolina A&T in control of the first half. Phillip Allen, a freshman making his second start at point guard, began an 11-0 Aggies run with a 15-footer and ended it with a steal and a layup that put Coppin in a 15-5 hole with five minutes gone.
Coppin gave the Aggies plenty of help with four turnovers, 0-for-5 shooting and a technical foul on coach Fang Mitchell. But the two-player hole at point guard underscored the Eagles' problems. Their offense lacked direction and the defense, which forces an average of 24 turnovers, got five in the first half and none in the first seven minutes.