Bethune-Cookman gives Coppin night off

February 11, 1992|By Kent Baker

Coppin State needed a breather. The Eagles had lost four of their past six games by five points or fewer, and they had been hit by one injury after another.

The reprieve arrived last night in the maroon and gold of Bethune-Cookman, the last-place team in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

Coppin had no trouble stopping a two-game losing streak against the turnover-hampered Wildcats, rolling to a 105-83 victory at the Coppin Center as six players scored in double figures.

Senior guard Larry Yarbray (22 points) and sophomore center-forward Kenyatta Massey (16) reached career scoring highs in the rout, which did wonders for the disposition of Eagles coach Fang Mitchell.

"We needed this one real bad, especially since the next three are away from here," said Mitchell, whose team improved to 14-9, 8-5. "With the people we have out and hurting, others had to step forward and we got good games out of Kenyatta and Larry. Some guys who hadn't been doing a lot of scoring came through."

The Eagles played again without their No. 2 and 3 scorers, Darren Woods (out perhaps three weeks with a sprained knee) and James Mazyck (sprained ankle). And center Coleman Scott, still recovering from a hamstring injury, played just nine minutes.

But it didn't matter against Bethune-Cookman (1-21, 1-11), which has not found anyone who can take care of the basketball. The Wildcats had 18 first-half turnovers, 28 total, and were never in the game after the first 10 minutes.

As usual, senior Reggie Cunningham, the MEAC's leading scorer, wasn't enough to offset the ball-handling deficiencies. Cunningham played all 40 minutes and scored 33 points, 20 in the second half, when the outcome had long been decided.

"He's all we got and if they cut him off, there isn't anywhere to go," said coach Cy McClairen, in his 29th year with the Wildcats. "So we see double and triple teams on him and the ball."

It was Coppin's sixth consecutive victory over Bethune-Cookman, which last led at 19-17. But Sidney Goodman tied the game with a jump shot, Massey scored on the break, Keith Carmichael followed with a short jumper and the Eagles were off to the races.

Mitchell, whose team is jockeying for seeding for the MEAC tournament, said he is not particularly looking to avoid the No. 4 vs. No. 5 game.

"All of the games up until then will be tough," he said. "I can't worry about where we're playing in the tournament yet.

"Anybody in the conference is capable of winning it. This was Bethune's third game on this trip and they're a little tired."

The Eagles shot 69.4 percent in the second half, thanks to a variety of layups off double-teaming steals. Three Coppin guards -- Yarbray, Carmichael and Sidney Goodman -- combined for 14 steals.

"We don't shoot exceptionally well normally," said Mitchell. "We needed every one of those turnovers."

McClairen said league-leading Howard "is in the driver's seat" for the tournament "but there really isn't much difference between the first four or five teams.

"And Coppin is not at full strength right now, so they're hard to judge until they are."

Coppin is 9-3 at home this season.

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