In a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game that had more stops and starts than afternoon rush hour on the Beltway, Coppin State made 41 free throws and beat Morgan State, 96-82, before 3,849 at Hill Field House last night.
In winning their sixth straight since a Jan. 8 loss at North Carolina A&T, the Eagles (11-5, 5-1) were fouled 37 times and attempted 55 free throws, 31 in the first half. The officiating crew detected contact at both ends. Morgan State (2-15, 2-4) was 20-for-29 from the line.
"You have to attribute a lot of tonight to Morgan State's aggressive play," Coppin State coach Fang Mitchell said. "They had nothing to lose, and they kept banging and banging and banging. It was almost like a street fight out there."
The Bears, who were playing only their fourth game at home and the first there since Jan. 6, continued their season-long foul difficulties. Morgan State opponents are averaging 35 free throws, one reason the Bears are allowing more than 100 points a game and are near the bottom of the Division I power ratings.
Six minutes into the second half, freshman center Jarrad Smith and junior forward Michael Brewer were on the bench with their fifth fouls and Obadiah Johnson and Matthew Burrell also were disqualified.
"Our big kids go after people," Morgan State coach Michael Holmes said. "Maybe if they jumped a little higher, the man wouldn't call a foul on them."
Coppin State sophomore forward Tariq Saunders had a game-high 21 points -- 7-for-8 at the line -- and 10 rebounds. Three other Eagles scored in double figures, as sophomore swingman James Mazyck had 18, 11 rebounds and four assists; senior guard Larry Yarbray had 14 and five assists; and senior forward Darren Woods had 12, including eight of 10 at the line.
Mazyck, who missed the first five games of this month on disciplinary suspension, played sparingly in the first half, as he was called for two fouls in less than 10 seconds in the seventh minute. He went the entire way in the second half, however, when he scored 15 points.
"It's very difficult to get into any kind of flow in a game like this," said Mazyck, who made both of his three-pointers and three of his other four field-goal attempts. "We like uptempo games, regardless of who we're playing. Our earlier problems are gone, and I think we're going in the right direction. When someone has to come out, there's always somebody else there to pick up the slack."
Coppin State found its rhythm shortly after Smith and Brewer exited. Leading 68-61 with 10 minutes left, the Eagles reaped dividends from their halfcourt pressure during an 18-5 run during the next three minutes. Mazyck began the run with a strong feed to Michael Johnson, and finished it with a basket that increased the Coppin State lead to 84-66 with seven minutes left.
The Eagles trailed 16-15 when Mazyck went out, but Michael Johnson, his replacement, sparked a 14-4 run that climaxed with Keith Carmichael's short jumper with 9:40 left in the first half. They led 29-20 at the time, but didn't score another basket before halftime. The Bears committed 19 fouls in the half, and Coppin State attempted 31 free throws, hitting 24 en route to a 47-42 advantage.
Morgan State got 14 points and five rebounds from freshman guard Johnson, and 13 points from Terry Sellers. Smith, a 6-foot-11, 280-pound athlete who spent the day in the infirmary trying to shake the flu, and Phillip Downs had 11 points apiece. The Bears made 44.4 percent of their shots, better than average, but they were out-rebounded 58-39 as Coppin State had 26 rebounds at the offensive end alone.
Morgan State, which lost point guard Terry Wright for the season in its third game and leading scorer Ural Hogans to a broken hand earlier this month, committed 29 turnovers but forced Coppin State into 35 giveaways. That pleased Holmes, who talked to his team for 30 minutes afterward.
"We do that after every game," said the second-year coach, who began the season with nine freshmen and two transfers on a 15-man roster. "We've had to revamp our team several times because of injuries, but we're getting experience."