Coppin masters 3-pointers, Howard Eagles win, 76-60, stay atop MEAC

January 31, 1993|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- They were picked to finish seventh in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference because they lack experience

and size, but the Coppin State Eagles have found a great equalizer with the three-point shot.

Against a Howard team that had beaten Coppin twice last season, the Eagles again put on a three-point shooting display, making nine -- five in seven minutes during the second half -- to help defeat the Bison, 76-60, last night at Burr Gymnasium.

Coppin (10-7, 7-0 in the MEAC) won its fourth straight -- and its eighth in the past nine games -- and keeps its position atop the league. Stephen Stewart scored 22 points and Tariq Saunders had 21 to lead Coppin, which made nine three-pointers overall.

Howard (7-11, 4-4) lost for just the third time in its past 17 home games.

The Eagles went into last night shooting 39.4 percent from the field -- 35.8 percent from three-point range. But it wasn't just the Coppin three-point shooting that did the job last night. The Eagles, who have the league's best defense, limited the Bison to 30 percent shooting from the field in the second half.

"Any time you hold Howard to 60 points, you have to be happy," said Coppin coach Fang Mitchell. "We changed some defenses on them in the second half by going zone, and they missed some key outside shots." That was the turning point.

The Eagles had a 35-33 halftime lead, but fell behind when Howard's Phil Chenier scored his team's first six points of the second half helping the Bison to a 39-38 lead.

But Saunders scored the first five points of a 10-0 Coppin run that was capped by a three-pointer by Stewart, which gave the Eagles a 48-39 lead with 15:20 left. Howard was never really a threat after that, as the Bison never pulled closer than seven points the rest of the game.

Stewart, Coppin's leading scorer for the second game in a row, scored his 22 points while hitting seven of 11 shots from the field. The 6-foot-5 forward scored a career-high 27 points in a win over Morgan on Thursday.

"Stewart came to play," Mitchell said. "He just wanted the ball, and he was determined to be successful."

Stewart was the only effective player for Coppin in the early going, as he scored his team's first 11 points -- and 14 of the first 15.

It was a game involving perhaps two of the most disciplined teams in the MEAC, and Howard used its height advantage early, which resulted in numerous second-chance opportunities and helped the Bison to an early 12-4 lead.

"This game -- the way it started and how Howard came at us -- for us to regroup, I was real pleased," Mitchell said. "This was a prime example of determination winning a game."

With Coppin center Michael Thomas going to the bench after picking up his second foul just over three minutes into the game, the Eagles played with a lineup where the biggest player was 6-foot-6 Saunders.

With the exception of Stewart, the Eagles were off to a terrible start offensively.

Then Coppin's three-point shooters got hot as the team scored four of its next five field goals from three-point range -- two by Kyle Locke and two by Saunders -- that gave the Eagles a 29-24 lead. Coppin led by as many as six after two free throws by Saunders made it 35-29 with 1:29 left in the half, but Howard scored the final four points to go into the half trailing by just 35-33.

Coppin's Stewart led all scorers in the half with 14 points, hitting five of seven from the field. Howard's backcourt of Milan Brown and Robert Riddick scored 10 and nine points.

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