Coppin shoots down mark, B-Cookman

January 25, 1994|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Staff Writer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- For a team that has been concerned about how it has struggled of late, the Coppin State Eagles were able to establish a league record for consecutive wins in championship style.

One game after shooting 13 percent in the second half of a record-tying win against Florida A&M, the Eagles played a near-perfect second half to beat Bethune-Cookman, 86-68, at Moore Gymnasium.

It was the 24th straight Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference win for the Eagles (including tournament games last season), surpassing the record set by North Carolina A&T during 1986-88.

"I'm just ready to get the record behind us," Coppin coach Fang Mitchell said. "We weren't playing like a championship-type team, and it was my job to ignite them to play to the best of their ability."

One player coming close to that last night was junior guard Keith Carmichael, who scored 25 points. Carmichael, who had been shooting 34.0 percent in four MEAC games, hit nine of 15 shots last night -- including six of 12 from behind the three-point arc. He hit four of five from three-point range in the second half, when the Eagles broke open what had been a close game.

"I was just feeling it," Carmichael said. "The past four games, I've been struggling. [Last night] I was able to get my stroke going."

Coppin led, 34-26, at the half, but Carmichael's first three of the second half gave the Eagles a 42-31 lead and began the rout. Just over the halfway point of the second half Coppin had a 28-point lead, following a three-pointer by Kyle Locke to make it 74-46. Both coaches substituted freely in the second half, allowing the Wildcats to avoid their worst loss of the year.

Bethune-Cookman (3-13, 3-4) was looking to pass its win total of last season, when the Wildcats finished 3-24. A somewhat more athletic team this season, the Wildcats have applied full-court defensive pressure that has bothered opponents.

But Coppin's patience paid off, as the Eagles continually found the open man. Coppin, which never trailed, got two straight three-pointers by Carmichael, following one from Locke (13 points) to take a 12-6 lead in the opening minutes.

The Wildcats got to within 12-8 after a layup by Dereck Smith with 16:47 left, but that was as close as they would get the rest of the night. During its next seven possessions, Bethune-Cookman committed four turnovers and missed three shots. During that span Coppin increased its lead to 18-8 after a thunderous follow dunk by Michael Thomas.

By the half, Coppin's lead was cut to 34-26, but over the first 10 minutes of the second half, the Eagles scored on all but one of their possessions. Coppin hit five of its 12 threes during that span, with four coming from Carmichael.

"In a way, I was surprised they were giving me so much room," Carmichael said. "But I guess since I was struggling, they wanted to see if I could make a couple."

He made a couple, and then some. It was an impressive game by the Eagles, who also got 14 points and seven rebounds from Thomas (seven of 10 from the field), and 14 points, six rebounds and five assists from Stephen Stewart.

"I think it was a complete team victory," Mitchell said. "They kept their composure under the pressure and they kept finding the open man.

"We also did a good job playing team defense," Mitchell added. "This was a good win for us. I'm really happy about the way we played."

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