23rd in row in MEAC ties mark for Coppin

January 23, 1994|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Staff Writer

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- There might be a day when a team in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference approaches the record for consecutive wins that Coppin State tied last night, and someone may recall the impressive team that helped establish the mark.

Hopefully, when they remember, they won't recall the ugliness of the game last night.

Coppin State tied the record, winning its 23rd straight MEAC game (a record shared by North Carolina A & T), with a 67-57 win over Florida A & M at the Gaither Athletic Center here. In a game marred by fouls, the Eagles (10-7, 4-0 in the MEAC) were able to survive a stretch of nearly 12 minutes when they failed to score a field goal.

"Wasn't that atrocious? Wasn't that terrible?" Coppin coach Ron "Fang" Mitchell said of the game. "That's the type of game you're suppose to lose."

Especially when you:

* Shoot a season-low 26.9 percent for the game, hitting just 14 of 53 field-goal attempts (possibly an NCAA record low for a winning team).

* Shoot just 13.0 percent in the second half.

* Make just three field goals in the second half, all by reserve guard Marcus Robinson.

* Miss 14 consecutive field-goal attempts, which the Eagles did from late in the first half until midway through the second half.

Coppin won the game on the free-throw line, hitting 32 of 43 for the game and 27 of 37 attempts in the second half alone. Coppin's previous high for free throws in a game was 35 against Maryland-Eastern Shore on on Jan. 17.

"I took a pounding but that's to be expected," said Stephen Stewart, who scored a game-high 21 points (17 of 23 from the line -- 15 of 21 in the second half). "That's all part of the game. We had some opportunities to put the game out of reach, and we didn't."

Leading 32-30 at the half, the Eagles did not score their first field goal of the second half until Robinson's hit a three-pointer with 10:50 left, which ended a stretch of 11:56 without a field goal.

But when Robinson hit the team's final field goal of the game, with 8:02 left, Coppin was able to increase its lead to 54-48. Coppin was ahead 58-51 after Stewart hit one of two free throws with just under four minutes left. Florida A & M scored the next three points to pull to within 58-54 after Byron Coast hit one of two free throws with 2:45 left.

The Eagles hit five straight free throws to increase the lead to 63-54, and were able to hold on to the win.

"I don't think we can play any uglier than we played and still come out with a victory," Mitchell said. "We're just in a little rut. That goodness for our defense -- our defense was effective all game."

The defense limited Florida A & M to 38.9 percent shooting from the field, and the Rattlers were good on just six of 21 free throws (28.6 percent). Coast had 14 points to lead Florida A & M, which had just one player shoot over 50 percent (Joey McGear was four of six from the field, scoring 11 points).

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