Coppin cruises this time, 91-68 Morgan offers little resistance, suspense

February 04, 1996|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

As is usually the case, the sequel was hardly as good as the original.

A week ago, perennial Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference power Coppin State needed a last-second basket by Reggie Welch to beat Morgan State by a point.

Yesterday's rematch at Hill Field House lacked suspense. The Eagles jumped to a 21-7 lead in the first eight minutes and coasted to a 91-68 victory.

Morgan made one serious run in the second half, using defensive pressure and the athletic ability of freshman Rasheed Sparks to close to 56-49.

But in a matter of minutes, Coppin (11-8, 8-1), led by junior center Terquin Mott (20 points, 13 rebounds), sophomore guard Antoine Brockington (16 points) and senior point guard Allen Watson (17 points, five assists), was back in control with a 67-50 cushion.

After their close call against Morgan (4-15, 3-5) and a 63-62 loss at Howard last Monday that ended their MEAC regular-season winning streak at 22, the Eagles were extremely focused.

Said Welch: "We were sitting on the top of the world after starting conference play 7-0. But losing to Howard, which had only won one game, brought us back to earth.

"We know we're everyone's target as top dog in the MEAC. We have to maintain a high level of intensity. We expected a real dogfight today, coming to Morgan and playing on TV [HTS]. That's why we wanted to take care of business early."

The Eagles did just that, silencing a late-arriving crowd of 1,042.

Watson joined Welch in forcing repeated turnovers in the opening minutes to grab a 21-7 lead that shook the Bears.

Coppin's emotional coach, Fang Mitchell, screamed and yelled on the sideline. But, in the end, he was quite pleased with his team's effort.

"Teams have been extremely physical playing against us this season," said Mitchell. "We've been taking a beating inside, and the referees haven't been blowing their whistles. So I told our kids they had to reply by being more aggressive themselves."

And his players followed Fang's orders explicitly, out-rebounding Morgan, 39-26. The biggest difference on the offensive boards was Mott, who accounted for six rebounds and several put-backs.

"With Mott, Welch and Watson, they have three of the best players in the MEAC," said Chris Fuller, in his first season at Morgan. "When they come to play like they did today, they're unbeatable. We just didn't have any answers."

Coppin no longer boasts three-point shooters like Keith Carmichael, Sidney Goodman and Reggie Isaac, who drove defenders crazy in recent years.

The Eagles now rely more on a power game, with Mott, a strong candidate for MEAC Player of the Year as their centerpiece.

"Actually, I think this team has more talent than a year ago," Mitchell said of his Eagles, who finished 21-10 last season.

"That team had more toughness. But this team--with five new starters--is just starting to mesh. And today was a good step in that direction."

Less than pleased with the recent defensive efforts of senior Kyle Locke and Julian King, Mitchell gave freshman Jerel Seamon his first start at shooting guard yesterday. And the 6-foot-3 Florida native responded with nine points, four assists and no turnovers.

"I wanted to give Jerel a boost in confidence and he did a tremendous job on defense and handling the ball," Mitchell said. "We've given our upperclassmen a chance. Now I want to get a better look at some of our freshmen."

Seamon and fellow freshman Kareem Lewis, a powerfully built forward, will make Coppin only that much tougher as the season progresses.

Even when his team made its spirited rally in the second half, Fuller was not deluded.

"Our only real chance to beat them was with defense," he said. "But when Coppin runs its offense well, no one can stop them."

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