2nd-half surge boosts Coppin past Del. State

January 15, 1995|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Sun Staff Writer

Coppin State has the longest home-court winning streak in the area and the seventh-longest Division I stretch in the nation.

For 27 minutes last night, both appeared to be in serious jeopardy. Top scorer Stephen Stewart had been ejected, the Eagles' three-point shots weren't falling with any regularity and Delaware State was playing with cool and discipline.

But the upset notions disappeared quickly for the Hornets when Coppin unleashed a 15-3 scoring run, soared ahead by nine and took control.

The rest was rather routine, the Eagles taking an 80-65 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference victory before 1,478 at Coppin Center, its 23rd straight home win.

Coppin (6-8, 3-1) trailed 47-44 when the decisive surge began on a three-pointer by Keith Carmichael. Five other players scored during the spree, with backup center Mario McGriff contributing a three-point play.

Coppin State hit its last 13 free throws to beat Delaware State (4-9, 1-3) for the sixth consecutive time and 16th time in their past 18 meetings.

"We knew we had to step it up after we lost Stephen," said Sidney Goodman, whose 21 points topped Coppin. "We start a small lineup, even with him in there, and we have to be aggressive."

"This team is a fighter," said coach Fang Mitchell. "Stephen had some foul trouble against South Carolina State and they got the opportunity to play without him then."

The ejection came with 41 seconds remaining in the first half shortly after the Eagles' Michael Thomas (19 points, seven rebounds, three blocks) had scored nine straight Coppin points and 11 of 15 during a period in which Delaware State was wavering.

Stewart was tossed after throwing an elbow at Anderson Herbert, one of three Hornets up front who weigh 250 pounds or more.

"We were just getting control of the game, so that was stupid [of Stewart]," said Mitchell. "We can't have that. I don't care if the other guy is throwing elbows or not."

Delaware State, down 35-27 just before the incident, scored the final nine points of the half, the last three on a desperation 30-footer by Antoine Morris, to lead by one at halftime.

With their beefy lineup, the Hornets fared well inside and still led 47-44 with 13 minutes to play before the Eagles wore them out with nine unanswered points.

Coppin shot a miserable 5-for-20 from three-point range, but it compensated by a 40-24 rebounding edge against a much bigger team, 23-for-27 shooting at the foul line and pressure defense.

Tariq Saunders, who began the season with back problems, continued his progress with 19 points and seven rebounds, helping neutralize the Hornets' size.

Coppin is slowly gathering momentum after its meat grinder of an early schedule that included four stops in the Big Eight Conference and 12 of the first 13 games on the road.

"You're not building any confidence in that situation," said Mitchell. "That schedule was tough on us. You get tired, nothing is familiar and we might have had too many of those big games this time. Now we're home and this is where we should regain our confidence."

' Last night was a start.

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