Coppin runs by S.C. State, 77-51

January 07, 1994|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Staff Writer

For 20 minutes last night, it appeared that Coppin State's string of domination at home and against league opponents was in jeopardy.

The Eagles opened their Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference schedule against South Carolina State, which had handed Coppin State its last MEAC loss nearly two years ago.

Throughout a frustrating first half, history looked like it might repeat itself.

But a different Coppin State team took the floor after intermission. And the Eagles, behind stifling defense and a barrage of three-point shots, quickly --ed the Bulldogs' upset hopes with a 17-6 run, then cruised to a 77-51 victory before 1,475 at the Coppin Center.

Coppin State (7-7, 1-0), the heavy favorite to repeat as conference champions, won its 20th consecutive MEAC game, and its 14th straight at home. The victory didn't come easily -- at least for the first 20 minutes, when the Eagles played lackadaisical defense, rushed their offense and hit only 34.5 percent of their shots.

"We were shooting the ball too quickly in the first half, doing everything too quickly. We had to find our rhythm," said Coppin State coach Fang Mitchell. "With the level of competition we've been playing, I was worried about us taking South Carolina State too lightly. But losing is something that is unacceptable to them [the Eagles]."

In the second half, the Eagles responded impressively. After hitting five of 15 three-pointers in the opening half to stay close, they hit the Bulldogs (4-7, 0-1) with eight more three-pointers. Meanwhile, the Eagles' defense, beaten inside repeatedly early, held S.C. State to three field goals in the first 14 minutes of the second half.

Junior point guard Sidney Goodman, who is battling the flu, stepped up most impressively by scoring a game-high 21 points on 7-for-11 shooting, including 5-for-7 from three-point range. Goodman hit a pair of threes to spark Coppin State's 17-6 run to open the half and wound up with 13 points after intermission.

"My legs were kind of weary, and I'm kind of tired, but I couldn't let my sickness keep me from playing to the best of my ability," Goodman said. "We were tentative early. But we turned our defense up two or three notches in the second half."

Keith Carmichael, Coppin State's hottest shooter, added his outsideshooting show, getting all 18 of his points on three-pointers.

Then there was Stephen Stewart, who sprained an ankle in practice Wednesday, and was hampered in the first half, managing just three points. Stewart regrouped to score 13 in the second half. He scored seven straight points early in the second half, and his three-pointer gave the Eagles a 45-30 lead with 11:25 left.

Stewart's 18-foot baseline shot made it 54-34 at the seven-minute mark, and Coppin State never led by less than 20 after that.

The first half was anything but artistic, as neither team could muster much offense.

Had it not been for Coppin's three-point shooting, the Eagles might have been in trouble at the break, since the Bulldogs' zone defense negated Coppin's inside play.

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