Coppin outlasts Del. State in 2 OTs, 77-73

Eagles blow leads, but end drought on Cajigas' steals

January 04, 2000|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

A Coppin team starting slowly against level opposition, storming back to take control of the game, then throwing it away? Say it ain't so.

That was the case against Coppin State in a loss to Morgan State two weeks ago, and there was a near-repeat last night against Delaware State, the Eagles spiting themselves to win in double overtime, 77-73, at the Coppin Center.

After squandering leads at the end of regulation and in the first overtime, Coppin (3-10, 3-1 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) got three steals from Jorge Cajigas as part of a 7-0 run for the team's first win since beating North Carolina A&T on Dec. 6.

Afterward, Coppin coach Fang Mitchell was reluctant to compare it to the Morgan State game -- wherein his team turned an 18-point deficit into a lead, only to let it slip. This, of course, had a different result.

"I can compare it to a great win that we needed," Mitchell said, citing his team's monthlong drought, and an upcoming road trip to Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman. "We needed it bad since we go on the road this weekend."

Down 73-70 with 2: 07 left, Coppin point guard Rasheem Sims hit a runner to close the lead to a point with 1: 33 left. Nearly a minute later, Cajigas stole the ball from Delaware State reserve guard Marty Bailey and tied the game with a free throw at the 38-second mark.

When the Hornets lost the ball to Cajigas again, junior swingman Joe Brown, who led all scorers with 26 points, was fouled by Andre Matthews and hit a pair of free throws to give the Eagles a 75-73 lead with 25 seconds left. Then, facing the prospect of a third overtime, Coppin's defense forced Bailey to give up the ball again, it falling into the hands of Cajigas.

The senior from Aguada, Puerto Rico, struggled from the field, but made up for it on the other end with seven steals.

"He shot 4-for-15 from the field, but down the stretch, all the big plays were made by him," Delaware State coach Tony Sheals said.

"I had to do something to win," Cajigas said after scoring 14 points. "I had to do something on defense since I was off offensively."

Delaware State (0-10, 0-2) dropped its 18th straight contest against Coppin State. After leading for the first 25 minutes, the Hornets saw the previously cold Eagles -- 29 percent first-half shooting -- find a more accurate hand during a 15-5 run and take a 41-37 lead on a Sims' three-pointer with 11: 57 remaining.

Coppin led by as many as seven, taking leads of 48-41 and 56-49 -- the latter on Cajigas' three-pointer with 5: 16 remaining. But just as the Hornets failed to maintain an 11-point lead in the first half -- taking a 32-26 lead into halftime -- the Eagles couldn't put the game away.

Delaware tied the game at 58 when Demond Wilkerson followed a Stefan Malliet miss with 13 seconds left.

Coppin was up three points with 28 seconds left before Malliet hit a three-pointer with 11 seconds left to send the game into the next overtime tied at 68.

Malliet had 22 points to lead the Hornets, followed by 11 apiece from Leon Piper and Brandon Calvert. Sims and Kofi Pointer scored 15 apiece for Coppin.

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