Coppin rallies past Fla. A&M Cold from field, Eagles win, 69-63

January 24, 1993|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Staff Writer

Coppin State is the top team in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, having won its first three league games by an average of 24 points. But, despite entertaining a Florida A&M team that has been struggling, the Eagles knew they would be in for a battle last night.

The Eagles, despite shooting 39.7 percent from the field, were able to rally from a six-point second-half deficit on their way to a 69-63 win before a crowd of 2,300 at Coppin Center.

On paper, it looked like a mismatch, pitting the team with the league's best record against a Florida A&M team that entered last night losing three of its previous four games. But these teams played two games last season that were decided by a total of three points, so Coppin coach Fang Mitchell figured it was not going to be an easy night.

"Had you told me before the game that we would have won by one point, I would have been very happy," Mitchell said. "It's always a tough game, and we didn't expect anything different."

Beginning a three-game homestand Coppin (7-7, 4-0 in the MEAC) had a three-point lead early in the second half but saw forward DeLon Turner (29 points, 12 rebounds) score 10 points during a 12-3 Florida A&M run that gave the Rattlers a 49-43 lead with 11:26 left.

But the Eagles responded quickly, hitting five three-pointers -- two by guard Keith Carmichael -- during a 20-8 run over the next five minutes that gave Coppin a 63-57 lead with 5:11 left.

The Rattlers closed to 63-61 with 3:49 left following back-to-back lay-ups by Kevin Colson and Curtis Williams, but Florida A&M was able to score just two points the rest of the way en route to its second straight loss.

Coppin was outshot from the field in the game, 47.2 percent to 39.7, but the Eagles were helped by hitting all seven of their three-point shots in the second half. Mitchell has given this team a little more freedom to shoot the three, and the move paid off last night.

"If they're open and as long as they're set, they can take it," Mitchell said. "We are a good shooting team -- that is our strength this year."

Despite the low shooting percentage, Mitchell got good shooting nights from Sidney Goodman (17 points -- six of 12 from the

field), Carmichael (12 points -- five of eight from the field) and center Michael Thomas (15 points -- seven of 12). Nine Coppin players played 10 or more minutes, with only Goodman playing more than 30 minutes for the Eagles.

"There's no question that there's more depth on this team than I've ever had," Mitchell said. "You don't lose anything when we go to the bench. It's difficult to find playing time for everybody to keep them happy."

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