They came into the game as the top two teams in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, with Coppin State taking the league's top defense against a Morgan State team that had the league's highest scoring offense.
Going in it was the most anticipated game of this young season, but in the end it was all Coppin State, which cruised to an 87-61 win before a sellout crowd at the Coppin Center.
Morgan State (5-10, 5-2 MEAC) had entered the game with a five-game winning streak, with the last four coming on its home floor at Hill Field House, where the Bears averaged 83 points a game. But Coppin's defense, which is allowing a league low 68.7 points, held Morgan to its lowest point total of the season.
Coppin (9-7, 6-0) increased its league lead while winning for the seventh time in the last eight games. The Eagles are now 6-1 at the Coppin Center this season.
Tied at 32 at the half, Morgan scored the first points of the second half on a tip-in by Brandon Parker. But that was Morgan's last lead of the game. A three-pointer by Sidney Goodman started an 8-0 Coppin State run that gave the Eagles a 39-34 lead.
After Coppin coach Fang Mitchell was given a technical foul, Morgan got as close as 39-38 on two free throws by Chico Langston. But Coppin, shooting nearly seven more three-pointers a game than last season, began to rain shots from beyond the arc.
During a span of just over four minutes the Eagles hit five three-pointers without missing -- three of them by Goodman -- that helped the Eagles to a 57-46 lead with 10:09 left.
It was all Coppin from there.
Both teams got off to hot starts, with Coppin hitting its first three shots -- Morgan hit its first two, both three-pointers -- as the
Eagles took a 7-6 lead. After failing to score on their next seven possessions, the Eagles went on an 8-3 run -- the final points coming on a rebound dunk by Mike Thomas and a free throw by Stephen Stewart -- that gave Coppin its biggest lead of the half, 15-11, with 12:15 left in the half.
The teams played even for the next several minutes. With Coppin holding an 18-16 lead, Morgan began a surge.
A three-pointer by Brandon Parker started a 7-0 run that gave the Bears a 23-18 lead. Then the pressure defense of the Bears forced four Coppin turnovers, which helped Morgan take a 32-23 lead after two free throws by Michael Brewer with 5:13 left in the half.
But Coppin, long known for its tenacious defense, was able to keep Morgan scoreless the rest of the half. The Eagles ended the half with a 9-0 run, tying the game at 32 going into the intermission.