Coppin battles past UMES, 80-70

February 27, 1994|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Sun Staff Writer

SALISBURY -- While rolling along with the nation's longest winning streak, Coppin State has typically overwhelmed its Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference competition with talent. Yesterday, the Eagles gave UMES an up-close look at their heart, as well.

Coppin State extended its winning streak to 15 games with an 80-70 victory over UMES at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center, and the win was unusually interesting.

The Eagles had to overcome a major scare, playing the final five minutes without their floor leader, junior point guard Sidney Goodman, who was ejected after a scuffle with UMES guard Zack Allison.

With 5:19 left and the Eagles in control, 65-53, Goodman was called for an intentional foul after poking Allison in the back of the head.

Both benches emptied, and while order was being restored, an emotional Goodman drew a technical foul and an ejection. He then stormed out of the arena after engaging in a brief shouting match with Eagles coach Fang Mitchell.

"He [Allison] was elbowing me all game, and I lost my temper and hurt my team, which I shouldn't have done," said Goodman, who drew his first career ejection. "First and last. It will never happen again."

Allison converted four free throws, then made a short jumper to cap a 10-0 run that cut Coppin State's lead to 65-59.

Suddenly, with the home crowd roaring, the Eagles' winning streak appeared to be in jeopardy.

But just as quickly as they fell into trouble, the Eagles rebounded to show why they have become the MEAC's dominant force. Junior forward Stephen Stewart, whom Mitchell refers to as "our warrior," led the way.

Stewart scored nine of his game-high 30 points over the final five minutes to ruin the upset bid of the Hawks (14-11, 9-6).

Stewart's heroics included a crucial follow-up shot after a three-point miss by Keith Carmichael that gave the Eagles a 69-62 lead with 3:25 left. Stewart also made five of six free throws down the stretch to carry the Eagles. UMES never got closer than five points.

"Everything was getting kind of hectic, and that's when I pulled the guys together and told them to relax and take care of business," said Stewart, who had a game-high 13 rebounds, four assists and made 12 of 16 foul shots. "We had to buckle down. Other teams play off of emotion. We keep our cool and play with heart."

"Stephen came up big offensively all game long. Maybe I'm spoiled, but I expect him to do it," said Mitchell, whose Eagles (21-7, 15-0) are one game away from their second straight perfect regular season against the MEAC.

"It wasn't just him, though. Our guys clamped down and played tough defense," Mitchell added.

"We were in a threatening position, but we understood what time it was. We had to stop that momentum and take the crowd out of it. To see how tall these guys stood makes me that much more proud of them."

The Eagles overcame numerous obstacles. On a day when Goodman (eight points, 2-for-10 shooting) struggled and Carmichael (two points, 1-for-7) had his worst offensive game of the season, forwards Michael Thomas and Kyle Locke stepped up to fill the gaps.

Thomas made six of seven shots and finished with 15 points, and Locke came through with a season-high 18 points.

Locke stunned UMES from the outside. After entering the game with a 14-for-50 showing from three-point range on the season, Locke hit four of five three-pointers. He hit three straight to open the second half, when Coppin State turned a 35-28 halftime lead into a 46-32 bulge with 16:15 left.

The Eagles cruised along for the next 11 minutes, until the Goodman ejection gave the Hawks life.

"They [Coppin] have got a lot of weapons and they can beat you a lot of different ways," UMES coach Rob Chavez said.

"When we got the break and made those free throws, I thought we might crawl back into it. But they showed their character and the reason why they are such a good team."

Allison led UMES with 23 points on 9-for-14 shooting. Center Kenya Mobley scored 14 points and grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds.

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