Eagles fly by Morgan, 89-71 Brockington-Sparks shootout a fan-pleaser

January 11, 1998|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Morgan State's quest to be more like Coppin State in basketball seemed light years away yesterday at Baltimore City Community College.

The Bears had the highly regarded Eagles trapped in BCCC's bandbox of a gymnasium but let them escape for an easy 89-71 victory in a battle of cross-town rivals.

The only thing that saved the day for the 1,000 spectators crammed into the old arena that used to be the home court of the Community College of Baltimore was an individual matchup between Morgan's Rasheed Sparks and Coppin's Antoine Brockington.

Sparks, a 6-foot-3 junior forward, played the college game of his life and wound up with a career-high 34 points with an assortment of dunks, jumpers, three-pointers, layups and put-backs.

Sparks slashed around, over and through Coppin, hitting 12 of 20 from the field and seven of nine from the line. The Newark, N.J., product was 3-for-6 on three-pointers.

Sparks was averaging 12.1 points before yesterday, but the sight of Brockington, the nation's fifth-leading Division I scorer, and the Eagles stirred him to new heights.

"I love to play against Antoine," said Sparks. "And I could tell he was getting a kick out of it, too. We know each other from playing here in Baltimore, and we both were having fun out

there. Antoine made a couple of threes that killed us in the first half."

Coach Fang Mitchell of Coppin (5-6, 3-0 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) said of the Sparks show, "Rasheed kept them in the game. He's a tremendous athlete who was ready to play, and good things happen with a combination of those two things."

Brockington took a 24.5 average against Morgan (2-3, 2-11) and scored 22 yesterday, but the biggest surprise in the box score for the 6-2 senior All-America candidate was a game-high 10 rebounds.

Brockington hit two three-pointers in the first 6 1/2 minutes to give Coppin an 11-10 lead, and the Eagles soared to a 45-26 halftime advantage.

That turned the second half virtually into a Sparks-Brockington show, with Coppin's Kareem Lewis joining in with 16 second-half points to finish with a career- and team-high 24.

Brockington made the play of the game with 25 seconds left when he pulled off a move that would have made the Harlem Globetrotters proud.

He was headed toward the lane, lost his balance, fell to the floor, kept dribbling while on his knees, regained his feet, went past a couple of defenders and passed to 7-1 freshman reserve Jason Iacona for a short bank shot and 89-69 lead.

It was only the third brief appearance for Iacona this season, and it resulted in the first two points of his career.

The BCCC site, serving as Morgan's home court while its Hill Field House is renovated, is only six blocks from Coppin, and the pro-Eagles crowd went wild over the Brockington move and the Iacona basket.

Iacona, the first 7-footer in Coppin basketball history and only the second white player to wear an Eagles uniform in Mitchell's 12 years there, has become a crowd favorite.

Mitchell said Brockington once again showed what a gifted player he is. "That just tells you about his athleticism," said Mitchell. "That was a great play on his part, and all Jason Iacona does is keep working hard. He has good hands, and anytime he scores, people are going to love it."

The scoring performance by Lewis, a 6-7 senior, was a major step in the right direction for him and Coppin, but Mitchell still says Lewis can play better up front.

It is almost mandatory for Lewis to assert himself inside if Coppin hopes to repeat or improve on last season's NCAA tournament performance.

"Kareem was a preseason All-MEAC pick, but it's like he's been lost for us," said Mitchell. "He's been playing too soft inside, and today he scored a lot inside, but he wasn't going against any height."

For Morgan State coach Chris Fuller, it was a perplexing day as he watched his team come out flat with the exception of Sparks.

"When you get down close to 20 at halftime, it's hard to get back in a game," said Fuller. "We settled for the jump shot and couldn't hit."

Morgan was 0-for-11 on three-pointers in the first half and 5-for-27 overall. "We're not a very good team right now, and we didn't have the crowd behind us," Fuller said. "I was disappointed in the way we played."

Pub Date: 1/11/98

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