MEAC beat goes on for Coppin St.

January 18, 1994|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,Contributing Writer

Off to a good start in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Maryland-Eastern Shore is showing signs of turning its basketball fortunes around.

But while UMES' road to Baltimore for its game with Coppin State last night was a snowy and slushy one, the Hawks found out -- again -- that the road to the conference title also goes through there.

The first-place Eagles continued their dominance in the league with a 75-60 victory over the Hawks before a crowd of 750.

"We had our opportunities in the first half when we got down early, but came back and got it down to two," UMES coach Robbie Chavez. "We had chances to get ourselves in position to go into halftime even or maybe ahead by a couple of baskets, but we didn't convert our opportunities."

With the victory, Coppin State established the MEAC record for consecutive regular-season wins at 19. The Eagles have won 22 straight overall against league competition, one shy of the record held by North Carolina A&T.

Trailing 14-2 after the first five minutes of the game, the Hawks (7-7, 3-2) closed to within 27-25 with 4:32 remaining in the half, but the Eagles closed the half with a 9-2 run to take a 36-27 lead at intermission.

In the opening minutes of the second half, Coppin State (9-7, 3-0) went on a 10-4 run to take a 46-31 lead with 14:06 left in the game. UMES pulled no closer than 11 points for the remainder of the game.

"In the second half, we made some stops and got them to take a few bad shots," said Chavez.

"But we weren't able to convert on the offensive end and that's a tribute to them. They stopped our runs when they had to and we weren't able to overcome it."

But coach Ron "Fang" Mitchell is more concerned about his team's sloppy play of late. Coppin State, which will attempt to tie the record Saturday at Florida A&M, played out of sync in certain spots last night.

"We made too many bad decisions," said Mitchell. "We have to get better and come out with the intensity level that we had earlier in the year. Right now, we don't have it."

The Eagles received significant contributions from sophomore center Mario McGriff (12 points, six rebounds) and Michael Thomas (10, 7) to go with Stephen Stewart's game-high totals of 26 points and eight rebounds.

The Hawks, who came into the game tied for the second in the league with South Carolina State, were led by Dale Harrison (15 points) and Terrell Harris (11).

In their two meetings last season, the Hawks were handled by the Eagles, 79-69 and 75-51.

In the opening five minutes last night, it looked the the trend would continue as the Eagles took a 14-2 advantage with Stewart (seven points) and doing much of the damage.

The Hawks battled back behind Zack Allison, who scored seven during a 14-7 run that pulled them to within 21-16 with 9:21 remaining in the opening half.

Coppin State push the lead to 25-16, before Harrison hit back-to-back three-pointers to close the Eagles' lead to 25-22.

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