Eagles fly by Missouri in stunner Brockington hits 31, as Coppin State breaks 0-16 Big 12 hex, 78-70

'We're for real this year'

Rally halted

Stewart denied 600th win at Mo.

December 03, 1997|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Coppin State ditched its Cinderella tag last night and proved it could play with the big boys in their back yard.

Before shocking Missouri, 78-70, on its home court last night behind a scintillating, 31-point performance by Antoine Brockington, Coppin had been known primarily as a team that loves to ride an emotional wave into the NCAA tournament and create a lot of havoc.

But now the Eagles have shown they can go out in the second game of the season in early December and beat a Big 12 team before 13,300 screaming fans simply because they have talent.

It took a lot of talent and poise for Coppin (1-1) to overcome a Missouri squad (2-3) that has been to the NCAA tournament 15 of the last 20 years and upset Kansas the past two years on this very same Hearnes Center floor.

It was just last Feb. 4 that Missouri stunned then-No. 1 and unbeaten Kansas, 96-94, in double-overtime at Hearnes before a packed house.

Those same Tigers fans tried to disrupt Coppin State down the stretch last night, but the Eagles, whose 15-point lead was cut to four with 1: 17 left, refused to crumble and held on for a major victory for the school's growing basketball program.

The win also ended an 0-for-16 losing streak by the Baltimore school against Big 12 teams. The Eagles were 0-2 against Missouri entering last night, with both losses coming at Hearnes.

"It was a major step," said Coppin coach Fang Mitchell. "But we didn't come here expecting to lose. We wouldn't have played this game if we didn't think we could win."

Brockington, who emerged in last year's NCAA tournament, also was wearing a wide smile because last night's win might just help Coppin prove its near-miss at the Sweet 16 last March "wasn't a fluke."

"I want people to know that we're for real this year," said Brockington, a senior guard. "We want the respect we deserve and we can only get it by winning these road games against name schools."

Brockington took over for the Eagles last night midway through the first half after Danny Singletary had carried the

team in the opening 10 minutes with 12 points.

Brockington started his sweeping drives to the basket for dunks and was launching three-pointers from all over the floor, sending chills through the Missouri crowd every time it thought Coppin and Brockington might fade.

But it never happened, as the Eagles started to pull away early in the second half after trailing only once in the game (12-11).

Brockington had scored 16 points in the first half for a 38-32 lead and continued on a roll in the second half.

He hit back-to-back three-pointers near the midway mark of the second half, raising the Coppin lead to 54-44 with 11: 35 remaining, and the margin grew to 63-48 with 8: 21 on the clock when Kareem Lewis hit two free throws.

At that point, the Missouri fans were watching in disbelief but finally came to life when Tyron Lee hit a three-pointer to bring the Tigers back to 65-58 with 5: 22 remaining.

That set the stage for a frantic Missouri rally down the stretch, with the Tigers looking as if they might pull it out with 1: 17 left when Jeff Hafer's three-point jumper cut the lead to 74-70.

But Missouri missed five straight shots, allowing Coppin to add to the lead with two free throws each from Singletary and Brockington in the final seconds.

Singletary wound up with 18 points, eight assists, five steals and six turnovers to help carry the load with Brockington.

Veteran Missouri coach Norm Stewart, who was denied his 697th victory overall and 600th at Missouri, said, "We couldn't contain Brockington. He got 11 buckets on us and was a load to handle. We're not aggressive and we had poor shot selection. Each ballplayer has a little bit missing for us."

For Coppin, the biggest difference last night from an opening 72-50 loss to Connecticut was the much-improved inside play of swingman Fred Warrick (game-high 10 rebounds, eight points), Dorian Pena (six rebounds, five points) and Lewis (eight points, two rebounds).

"Those guys realized they had to block out better and become more aggressive," said Mitchell, whose Eagles had a stunning 15-13 edge on the boards in the first half. "We changed a lot of things from the Connecticut game."

COPPIN STATE -- Warrick 2-10 2-2 8, Pena 2-3 1-1 5, K. Lewis 3-4 2-3 8, Brockington 11-20 4-5 31, Singletary 6-10 5-7 18, T. Lewis 1-3 0-0 2, Reavis 2-2 0-0 4, Watkins 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 28-53 14-18 78.

MISSOURI -- Lee 4-9 0-0 9, Hafer 7-13 1-2 18, Thames 4-9 11-12 19, Ray 0-3 0-0 0, Woods 5-17 0-0 13, Decker 0-3 4-6 4, Grawer 1-2 0-0 2, Parker 1-2 0-0 2, Hardge 1-4 1-2 3. Totals 23-62 17-22 70.

Halftime--Coppin State, 38-32. 3-point goals--Coppin St. 8-18 (Warrick 2-7, Brockington 5-9, Singletary 1-2), Missouri 7-25 (Lee 1-4, Hafer 3-6, Thames 0-1, Ray 0-2, Woods 3-10, Grawer 0-1, Parker 0-1). Rebounds--Coppin St. 30 (Warrick 10), Missouri 39 (Thames 9). Assists--Coppin St. 14 (Singletary 8), Missouri 12 (Thames 5). Total fouls--Coppin St. 19, Missouri 19. A--13,300.

Pub Date: 12/03/97

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