UMES sheds 28-game Coppin hex

Hawks rally, stop hosts for 1st time since '85, 70-63

January 18, 2000|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

UMES coach Lonnie Williams knows it's only January and there is a lot of basketball left to play in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

But Williams couldn't resist celebrating last night after his Fighting Hawks had pulled off a monumental, 70-63 upset of Coppin State before a stunned audience of 857 at the Coppin Center.

"This is probably the biggest victory in school history," said Williams, who actually started celebrating with six seconds left when he went down his bench slapping hands with his players. "We're going to fly home mentally without an airplane. To come in here and beat a team like Coppin has to be a great shot in the arm for our program. They had beaten us 28 straight times. We deserve to celebrate this one."

UMES (5-11, 2-5) had not beaten Coppin since Dec. 29, 1985, when the Hawks scored a 75-72 victory in a Utica, N.Y., tournament.

Coppin coach Fang Mitchell was 26-0 against UMES before last night and it looked as if he would be 27-0 when the Eagles (5-11, 5-2) executed their offense smoothly in the first half for a 37-24 lead.

But Mitchell sensed danger early in the second half when his players "started dragging their feet and committing fouls."

"There was 15: 04 left in the game and we already had seven fouls to put them in a one-and-one at the line," said Mitchell. "That was the game right there. We were moving like we were in mud."

A look at the second-half scoring totals did little to raise his spirits. "We got beat by 20 points in the second half [46-26] at home," he said. "That tells you something right there."

It does seem as if the Coppin home-court dynasty is cracking a little.

The Eagles entered last night's game with a 109-19 record at the Coppin Center under Mitchell. Now they are suddenly 1-3 at home this season and 0-4 against other Maryland schools.

"We're 0-for-Maryland and that isn't good," said Mitchell, whose team lost to UMBC and Towson in the Battle of Baltimore at home and dropped a 58-57 decision to Morgan State on the road.

When Coppin ran out of steam early in the second half last night, UMES wasted little time going on a 15-0 run to surge ahead, 52-49, with 8: 39 left in the game.

Senior forward Kevin Wallace (25 points and 13 rebounds) and senior guard Demetric Reese (21 points with 18 in the second half) led the UMES charge.

"We just refused to lose," Reese said. "We wanted this one so much."

Coppin was led by Kofi Pointer's 20 points and nine rebounds. Jorge Cajigas scored 16 but had only six in the second half, thanks to a tenacious box-and-one led by Ben Roberts and Adrian Pryce.

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