Coppin State beats lapse, Delaware State, 70-56

January 31, 1994|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Sun Staff Writer

The lesson coach Fang Mitchell had to deliver yesterday was about staying the course.

For 30 minutes, his Coppin State team had played like the cream of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference against Delaware State at the Coppin Center.

Then the Eagles landed with a thud and Delaware State sliced a 25-point deficit to eight with less than two minutes remaining.

Coppin recovered to win comfortably, 70-56, but Mitchell was an unhappy man after the first televised game [ESPN2] played at his school.

Mitchell kept his players behind closed doors for a half hour after the game and some long faces emerged when he had ended his message.

"We played about 28 good minutes, really shut them down on the defensive end," said the coach. "We don't even have to discuss the last 12. The [post-game] talk was about letting up.

"In real life you only have to have so many examples before you understand what you have to do."

Coppin (13-7, 7-0) won its 16th straight home game and extended its record MEAC streaks to 23 wins in the regular season and 26 overall.

But the real impact was felt after the TV cameras had been packed and most of the 1,225 fans had left.

"When you play for Fang, you can play 39 good minutes and he wouldn't be happy," said Stephen Stewart. "He's a perfectionist.

"We tend to go off the deep end when we get a big lead. It's something we're going to have to continue to work on."

Delaware State (5-11, 2-5) was totally outclassed in the first half as the Eagles' defense forced 14 turnovers and restricted the Hornets to27 percent shooting.

Coppin increased its lead to 44-19 early in the second half and was coasting along with a 60-39 cushion after a steal and ensuing layup by Allen Watson with 5:26 to play.

Then came the sequence that really raised Mitchell's ire. The XTC Hornets went on an 14-1 tear, hitting three three-pointers, to chop the deficit to 61-53 with 1:59 left.

But Coppin halted the momentum shift by hitting seven free throws, five by Stewart, to prevent a potential collapse.

"We really started to think the game was over with 11 minutes left," said Stewart, who led the Eagles with 19 points and also grabbed 11 rebounds. "We did it to ourselves by not sustaining defensive intensity.

"That's going to catch up to us one of these times."

"This was two games in one," said Mitchell. "One of them was heavenly; the other one was a nightmare. We'll take the win and try to learn."

With nationally ranked three-point shooter Keith Carmichael having an off day (2-for-9), Sidney Goodman (15 points) and Kyle Locke (13 points) took care of the long-range business with three treys each.

Michael Thomas was the biggest force for Coppin's defense with 13 rebounds and seven blocked shots.

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