Outmanned N.C. A&T falls to Coppin, 85-51

January 14, 1993|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Staff Writer

Just when things were looking particularly bad for the North Carolina A&T basketball team, they got a bit worse last night when the Aggies visited the Coppin Center.

Forced to play without three players suspended for their contribution to an ugly fight Monday night with Morgan State, the Aggies were drubbed by Coppin State, 85-51, in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference contest.

"We just haven't played well in '93," said A&T coach Don Corbett. "We played like hell in '92, but '93 just hasn't done it for us."

By contrast, the Eagles, who lost their first three games of the season, have now won three in a row and appear to be catching fire at just the right time -- the start of conference play.

"We grew as a team and a family [last night]. We did have some obstacles to overcome," said Coppin coach Ron "Fang" Mitchell. "When people jumped off the bandwagon at the beginning, we knew that things would turn around for us. They just had to start believing in us."

Two A&T starters -- forwards Thomas Garner, the team's second leading scorer, and Thad Young -- served a mandatory one-game suspension for fighting. Also on suspension was reserve center Kevin Chamberlain.

Their absence was felt as the Eagles (5-6 and 2-0 in the MEAC) controlled the boards 46-31 and used their inside dominance to limit the Aggies (3-6, 0-2) to one shot on offense.

"Our morale was down, but that wasn't the only factor," said Corbett. "That's 20 points [Garner and Young's scoring], but that's no excuse. You have to give Fang and that defense some credit."

The Aggies' cause certainly wasn't helped by the fact that they hit just 32 percent of their shots from the floor.

"I have to attribute that to our defense," Mitchell said. "It just became difficult for them to get a clean shot."

Coppin shot 49 percent from the floor and was particularly effective from three-point range in the first half, hitting six. They finished 8-for-24.

"We are a good outside shooting team," Mitchell said. "We can go five, six, seven, eight [players] deep from out there."

Guard Sidney Goodman and forward Stephen Stewart led the Eagles with 12 points apiece, and Kyle Locke added 11 points.

From the start, Coppin State established its defensive dominance, switching from zone to man-to-man and back, confusing the Aggies.

North Carolina A&T, however, was game initially, drawing even with Eagles at 7 on a fade-away jumper from Jamaine Williams with 15:38 left in the half.

But that was the end of first-half highlights for the Aggies. Coppin went on a 12-2 run, punctuated by a long three-pointer from Keith Carmichael with 11:12 left.

A&T's Dwayne Forte scored off a backdoor cut following an Aggie timeout, but the Eagles reloaded with two three-pointers from reserve forward Stephen Stewart for a 25-9 lead with 6:21 remaining.

Aggie reserve forward Mitch Bristow hit a three with 6:03 left in the half, but those would be the last A&T points of the period. The combination of the Aggies' poor shot selection and Coppin's stingy defense kept the Aggies scoreless through their last 14 first-half possessions.

Meanwhile, the Eagles were getting their halfcourt offense in gear. Tariq Saunders connected for seven points in Coppin's 18-0 run to close the half with the Eagles up 43-14.

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