Coppin State calls time, out goes Towson, 76-63

December 14, 1993|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Staff Writer

Coppin State looked lethargic at times, but after Towson State gave the Eagles a spirited push, they responded with a shove that doused the Tigers' upset bid decisively.

Led by forward Stephen Stewart, Coppin State shook off a Towson State rally midway through the second half by scoring 11 unanswered points, and pulled away to a 76-63 victory last night before 2,850 at the Coppin Center.

Coppin State (5-3), playing only its second home game of the season, used its considerable size advantage inside down the stretch to dominate the Tigers (4-4), who were playing without leading scorer Scooter Alexander (sprained ankle).

Stewart, the Eagles' 6-foot-5, 230-pound swingman, was the focal point. He scored a season-high 28 points, including 19 in the second half and 10 consecutive points in one stretch. And it was Stewart who gave the Eagles the final push they needed to put away the pesky Tigers.

With Alexander watching the game in street clothes, Towson State backcourt mate Ralph Blalock scored a career-high 26 points, while leading a second-half rally that cut Coppin State's seven-point halftime lead to 55-52 with 9:35 left.

At that point, Coppin State coach Fang Mitchell called a timeout and calmly lectured his players. And that was the end of Towson State, as Stewart scored the next eight points to ignite an 11-point run that gave the Eagles a 66-52 cushion with 7:03 left.

The Eagles, fed by the roars of their home crowd, stretched the lead to 76-59 in the closing minutes.

"I realized at that point [with 9:35 left], with the way the game was going, anybody could have won. Coach said it was time for somebody to take over," said Stewart, who added five rebounds and five assists. "I feel like I can go inside against anybody."

Mitchell said he thought Coppin State had lost its focus before the timeout.

"Things were too easy in the beginning, and we became complacent," Mitchell said. "We stopped being aggressive and we were playing not to lose in our own gym. I'm not Houdini. During that timeout, I just told them to loosen up. During that last stretch, I think we showed we're the better basketball team."

The Eagles were especially dominant down low, where Stewart alone outscored the Tigers' frontcourt trio of Matt Campbell (nine points), John James (six) and Stevie Thomas (six).

Coppin State forward Michael Thomas (12 points, seven rebounds) and center Mario McGriff (seven points, 10 rebounds) led a strong performance on the boards, where the Eagles out-rebounded Towson State 36-29.

Coppin State wasn't too shabby outside, either. Five different players hit three-pointers, as the Eagles hit eight of 17 from long range.

Coppin State wasted no time flexing its inside muscle, as it used offensive rebounding and power layups to take an 11-4 lead in the opening four minutes.

The Tigers quickly quieted the partisan crowd with a 14-3 run, as Coppin State began to get sloppy with its shot selection. Blalock warmed up, hitting four straight shots, including two three-pointers. His 15-footer gave Towson State an 18-14 lead with 11:27 left.

The Eagles responded by turning up the defensive pressure. Coppin State limited the Tigers to two baskets over the next eight minutes.

On the offensive end, the Eagles started pulling their three-point triggers with success. Allen Watson, Sidney Goodman, Keith Carmichael and Stewart each hit three-pointers during a 21-5 run that gave Coppin State a 35-23 lead with 4:09 remaining.

A three-pointer by Campbell pulled Towson State to 35-28. But the Tigers could get no closer, as Coppin State held a 39-32 lead at intermission.

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