In the long run last night, Coppin State just had no one who could match up with bulky Florida A&M forward DeLon Turner, who destroyed the Eagles inside with one crucial basket after another.
Turner, 6 feet 5, 250 pounds, muscled his way past Coppin's collapsing zone defense for 26 points and 14 rebounds to lead Florida A&M to a 78-76 victory in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference thriller at the Coppin Center.
Turner answered almost every challenge by the Eagles, especially in the second half when Coppin rallied from a 67-55 deficit to pull within one at 74-73 with 1 minute, 27 seconds left in the game.
Turner used his wide body to block the smaller Eagles off the boards time after time for crucial offensive rebounds that he turned into points.
"Turner is a pro player right now," said Rattlers coach Willie Booker. "They couldn't match up with him or us inside. That's why they played that zone. They beat us on our home court (90-89 on Jan. 18) and we wanted to return the favor tonight."
However, Coppin did have a couple of opportunities in the final minutes to go ahead or tie.
But first Larry Yarbray missed a jump shot with 54 seconds left that would have wiped out the 74-73 Florida A&M lead and then Keith Carmichael missed two straight three-point jumpers with 18 and 15 seconds remaining that would have tied the game at 76.
It was Carmichael who beat the Rattlers in Tallahassee Jan. 18 with a three-point shot that barely beat the buzzer.
After Carmichael's second three-point miss, the Rattlers wrapped up the outcome with a Darrell Williams layup with four seconds on the clock for a 78-73 lead.
The Eagles finally got the three-point shot they were looking for with one second on the clock, when Coleman Scott hit a jumper from the left side to account for the two-point margin of defeat.
It was the second straight MEAC loss for Coppin.
With Turner controlling the middle, Coppin needed to get a lot of scoring from the outside.
But it never happened as leading Eagles scorer Tariq Saunders (17.3 average) was held to four points, and the team's second- and third-leading scorers didn't play because of injuries.
Darren Woods (12.9 ppg) missed the game with a sprained knee, and James Mazyck (12.6 ppg) didn't play because of a sprained ankle. Woods and Mazyck also will miss tomorrow night's game against Bethune-Cookman at the Coppin Center.
"We're starting to have a lot of people out of these key league games," said Coppin coach Fang Mitchell. "But I'm not going to )) use it as an excuse. It's just bad luck. We could have won this game if we hadn't turned the ball over so much in important situations."
Mitchell also said the Eagles were "slow moving in our zone defense. Also we have a habit of digging ourselves a hole and trying to get out of it. I would really be worried if we were playing badly, but we're not. It's just a lot of little things going wrong."
Scott paced Coppin with 18 points.
Michael Johnson, whose steal and layup reduced the Rattlers' lead to 74-73, scored 16 for Coppin, as did teammate Yarbray.