Coppin holds off S.C. State Eagles win, 75-69, for 11th straight

February 19, 1993|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Staff Writer

It was one of the those nights for Coppin State. Frustrated all night by a tenacious South Carolina State defense, the Eagles never were able to get into a flow in a game matching the two top teams in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

But despite watching an 11-point lead cut with two minutes left cut to five, the Eagles were able to hang on for a 75-69 win last night at the Coppin Center.

It was the 11th straight win for Coppin, which improved to 15-9 overall and 14-0 in the MEAC. South Carolina State, which had won three straight and six of its last seven going into the matchup, fell to 14-10 overall and dropped into a second-place tie with Morgan State with an 8-5 conference record.

Coppin had defeated South Carolina State easily, 86-58, in the first meeting, but this game proved to be a tougher test for the Eagles. In addition to their streak, the Bulldogs were the best shooting team in the MEAC going up against the league's worst. Plus South Carolina State had a tough front line, led by the MEAC's second leading scorer Jackie Robinson.

Frustrated by South Carolina State's defense in the first half that limited Coppin from getting the ball inside, the Eagles started the second half pounding the ball inside. With Tariq Saunders and Stephen Stewart combining to score 13 of Coppin's first 15 second-half points, the Eagles were able to take a 48-39 lead five minutes into the half.

Two free throws by Steward gave Coppin a 53-43 lead with 12:59 left. The Eagles then got sloppy, turning the ball over on two of their next three possession. The Bulldogs got four points by Robinson during a 7-2 run that had South Carolina State within 55-50 with 9:27 left.

But as South Carolina State and the other teams in the MEAC have found out this season, Coppin has too many weapons. Maintaining its poise, Coppin responded with an 11-4 run during which four different players scored to take its biggest lead, 66-54, following two free throws by Kyle Locke with 3:38 left.

Coppin had a 69-58 lead after Saunders hit one of three free throws with 2:03 left, but an 8-2 run ending with a free throw by Deon Murray pulled South Carolina State to 71-66 with 1:02 left. But Coppin scored the next four points, all on free throws, to hold off the rally and escape with the win.

It was the Eagles who got off to a quick start, with Michael Thomas scoring two early baskets that helped Coppin to a 7-2 lead. But thetaller Bulldogs took the ball inside on offense, and used a match-up zone defense that proved effective against Coppin. South Carolina State was able to take a 19-15 lead after a three-pointer by guard Abraham Williams with 8:27 left in the half.

Coppin, most effective in the first half while in transition, was able to come back and take a three-point lead after a three-pointer by reserve guard Keith Carmichael with 4:21 left. After South Carolina State regained the lead, 32-31, following a short jumper by Bernard Toatley, it was Carmichael who answered again with a jump shot from the foul line with five seconds remaining that gave the Eagles a 33-32 halftime lead.

Carmichael and Thomas scored eight points each in the first half to lead the Eagles, who shot 40.6 percent from the field. Williams had nine to lead South Carolina State, which shot 40 percent.

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