Coppin State earns first victory, 79-74 Eagles will wa

y to 79-74 triumph

December 13, 1992|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Staff Writer

They came down the stretch without an injured Stephen Stewart, without a senior and with Towson State applying tremendous defensive pressure.

But Coppin State's youth corps wouldn't fold last night, holding off the Tigers, 79-74, at the Towson Center in the first meeting between the two schools since 1975.

It was a major coup for the previously winless Eagles (1-3), who simply out-willed Towson to win.

"Our biggest problem has been intensity," said Coppin coach Fang Mitchell. "We get down [behind], we want to play hard. This was a game that we had to understand how hard to play and the second half we found that level."

Towson (1-3) had an eight-point halftime edge and appeared en route to a routine victory at home when it suddenly couldn't do anything right.

The offense stagnated with four players often standing around to watch senior Devin Boyd try to become a one-man shooting gallery and the inside game turned almost invisible.

Until the last three minutes, when the Tigers climbed back to one point from a 71-59 deficit, the defense was also lacking.

Coach Terry Truax says his team played as it practiced beforehand -- lackadaisically.

"We have to play from the beginning to the end like we did the final three minutes," said Truax. "At least 30 to 35 minutes with such sustained effort.

"I'm not too sure if this team has the mental development yet to do that. Maybe things have come a little too easy to us in the past."

Towson roared back to 75-74 on Andrew Mason's baseline shot with 33 seconds remaining.

But guards Sidney Goodman and Marcus Robinson each sank two free throws and Robinson managed a big steal to salt away the verdict.

Truax said he was concerned about Coppin's hunger for victory after the Eagles lost at home to UMBC Wednesday night and his own team's lack of hunger.

"A very good team would come back and have the right approach toward practice after a loss," he said. "But we didn't play defense with the type of concentration and effort you have to. Right now there is a question of our maturity level."

Coppin shot only 39.3 percent from the field, but compensated with eight three-pointers and 27 of 38 from the line largely because of what Truax termed "selfish and careless fouls."

Forward Tariq Saunders led the Eagles with 23 points and seven rebounds and reserve Michael Thomas contributed a fine game with 10 points and five rebounds.

Stewart, who hadn't shot well, went down with an ankle injury with 2:46 left, twisting his leg while being double-teamed at side court.

"We think it's just a sprain," said Mitchell.

Boyd and Scooter Alexander, the guard tandem, did practically all the offensive damage for Towson, combining for 36 of the team's 57 shots and 46 of the 74 points.

The starting frontcourt got only 12 shots and played 11 second-half minutes without Larry Brown, who picked up his fourth foul in the first half while his replacement was waiting for the horn to enter the game.

"We had to learn how to win," said Mitchell. "There were still signs of us not being mature, but that first one always helps."

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