Coppin finds discipline to extend MEAC streak Tops Del. State, 73-64, for 5th in row

February 04, 1993|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Staff Writer

DOVER, Del. -- When discipline and showmanship collide on the basketball court, discipline almost always prevails.

That was the case last night at Memorial Hall where Coppin State finally shook its lethargy in one five-minute stretch and pulled away for a 73-64 victory over Delaware State.

The outcome kept Coppin (11-7, 8-0) the undefeated leader of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in a game in which it appeared ripe for an upset.

Coach Fang Mitchell gave the Eagles a stern lecture afterward despite the victory, the team's fifth in a row and ninth in 10 games.

"Not to take anything away from Delaware State, but they were sloppy and we played to their level," said Mitchell.

"We create 18 turnovers [by the Hornets] in the first half and we're only up by three [points]. With those numbers, we're doing something wrong.

"The opportunity was there to put away the game and we brought ourselves down. Then, it became a dogfight."

"He thought we got complacent," said point guard Sidney Goodman. "Like we're thinking no team can beat us."

Delaware State (7-10, 3-5) sped to an 8-1 lead at the start and was in front for most of the first half despite its uncontrolled offense and charity with the ball.

Meanwhile, the Eagles shot 26.6 percent from the field, hitting only 12 of 45 attempts and 2 of 13 from three-point range.

The trend continued into the second half, Coppin struggling to find the basket and to overcome its own sluggishness. With one spurt, the Hornets forged ahead, 53-45, and Mitchell called a timeout.

"When our players went to eight points down, they felt threatened," he said. "That's where the will to win came in. But we've got to have that the whole game."

In the next five minutes, the Eagles went on a 24-4 tear with Stephen Stewart scoring seven points and Keith Carmichael, Tariq Saunders and Michael Thomas contributing five apiece.

The Hornets fumbled away the ball, continued to play carelessly and blew their chance to tighten the league race for second-place Morgan State.

"We just couldn't hit early," said Goodman. "The rims were kind of tight. We just had to get used to them. We just tried to stay focused. At some point, the ball would go into the basket."

Delaware State finished with 27 turnovers, yielding 13 to Coppin steals, and got beaten rather handily despite a 49-39 rebounding edge and a better shooting percentage (41.9 to 34.2) from the field.

"We had no rhythm and our intensity level was not what it needed to be," said Mitchell, sounding a lot more like the losing coach. "But we showed down the stretch, when we wanted to play, that we can be an entirely different team."

Saunders finished with 19 points and eight rebounds off the bench. Thomas had 15 points despite missing several dunks and Stewart added 13, giving him 62 points in the last three games.

Coppin wasn't very artistic or effective, but survived when pushed. It is the kind of game champions have to win on occasion.

"Our forte is discipline," said Mitchell. "We can't allow the other team to take us from that. Maybe things have come too easy."

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