Coppin runs home streak to 37 for gift to Mitchell Eagles pTC take 93-79 win over Bethune-Cookman

February 09, 1996|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

The Coppin State Eagles gave coach Fang Mitchell a present for his 48th birthday last night by extending their home winning streak to 37 with a 93-79 victory over Bethune-Cookman.

It raised Coppin's Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference record to 9-1 and forged a first-place tie with South Carolina State.

However, Mitchell did not have cause to celebrate until the last four minutes when the Eagles turned an 81-74 lead into a deceptively easy victory, extending the nation's longest current home win string.

The Eagles (12-8) tested fate against the hot-shooting Wildcats, who kept it close for 35 minutes by converting 12 of 25 three-point attempts. Senior guard Jaime Grant made four of eight three-pointers in scoring a team-high 24 points.

If Bethune-Cookman wasn't hitting three-pointers at an alarming rate, the Eagles were allowing Wildcats forwards Reggie Bellamy and Alistair White to score uncontested layups.

"I don't worry about this team scoring," said Mitchell, who watched Coppin shoot 63 percent for the game. "But we have to play with a lot more defensive intensity if we're going to reach our goals.

"I think we did a better job defending in the second half. But they kept making those three-pointers with somebody's hand in their face."

The Eagles played almost with an air of nonchalance, expecting simply to outgun Bethune-Cookman over 40 minutes.

Junior center Terquin Mott, who leads the nation with a 70.1 shooting percentage, carried the offense in the first half when he scored 18 of his game-high 27 points, hitting seven of eight shots.

In the second half, the Eagles turned to junior forward Reggie Welch, who scored all his 24 points after halftime.

With Bethune-Cookman leading 43-41, Welch ignited an 18-6 run with a three-pointer. He would cram 11 points into the next four minutes to give Coppin a 61-49 lead with 12:08 left.

"Reggie wasn't ready to play in the first half," said Mitchell. "He picked up some quick fouls and wasn't moving his feet. But his offense got him started. We've got to get him ready for the opening buzzer."

Bethune-Cookman fought back by hitting four straight three-pointers, and it was only a seven-point spread (81-74) before Coppin sophomore forward Antoine Brockington (22 points) put it out of reach with several jumpers and an acrobatic reverse slam.

Wildcats coach Tony Sheals was not around for the finish, drawing his second technical and ejection with 1:38 left.

"Everyone comes in here and plays with nothing to lose, hoping they'll be the team to snap it," said Mitchell of the latest scare to the Eagles' streak. "But we take special pride playing here. I tell our guys, 'Treat this place like it's your house, and be as tough as heck protecting it.' "

Mitchell also experienced some anxiety in the closing seconds when Mott, a strong candidate for MVP honors in the MEAC, crumpled to the floor.

He cried out in pain while holding his left leg, but examination revealed that he had suffered only a bad cramp, and he limped off the floor.

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