On campus, Coppin's victory is a cut above Opting for TV over class, students 'crazy' over win

March 15, 1997|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

The biggest party of the year on North Avenue kicked off around 5 p.m.

That's when Coppin State -- a 17-point underdog -- pulled off the biggest upset of this year's NCAA basketball tournament, knocking off second-seeded South Carolina.

At Dedmond Hall, a Coppin State dormitory, students counted off in unison the final seconds until everyone erupted in cheers.

Some people screamed out of their windows. Some started running down the hallways. A couple of students did backflips to celebrate.

"This is the most excitement I've ever seen here," said Sean Gibbs, a junior. "It really got crazy here."

Cutting classes and huddled in small groups in front of the television, seemingly the entire campus watched in amazement.

"I was quite surprised," said Raquesha Brown, a freshman who said she attended every home game. "We were glued to the TV. I was not going to get up."

Since the Eagles nearly lost twice in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament and had never won an NCAA tournament game, most students didn't give 15th-seeded Coppin much of a chance. But the Eagles started changing everyone's minds by going into halftime tied with South Carolina.

By the second half, more and more students began to believe as the campus rocked several times with chants of "Go Coppin."

"Everyone was wild," said Julelah Fuller, a senior. "Everybody cheered after every basket, every rebound and every free throw. This is exciting."

Exciting since few people in the country predicted Coppin would win much less could name where the campus is located. But students said that has all changed with the NCAA tournament spotlight fixed on the Eagles.

"In my opinion, this tops off the year," said Samantha Walker, a junior who crammed in five friends to watch the game in her room. "People don't really know where Coppin is. When I tell my friends where I go to college, they say: Compton State. This puts us on the map now."

And what happens if the Eagles pull off another upset and advance into the Sweet 16?

"I thought since South Carolina beat Kentucky twice that it was going to be real tough," said Curtis Cunningham, a freshman. "If they win on Sunday, there might not be a Dedmond Hall standing."

Pub Date: 3/15/97

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