After lecture, Coppin gives lesson

Mitchell tears team at half

Eagles respond, sit down Morgan, 82-70

February 27, 2000|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

In one of the most exciting chapters in the history of the Coppin State-Morgan State basketball series, Coppin State turned the tables on a front-running Morgan team last night in the second half and ran away to a 82-70 victory before an overflow crowd of 3,222 at the Coppin Center.

The duel last night went beyond the long neighborhood rivalry between these two schools.

This emotional battle was all about a slightly fading Coppin team trying to regain its home-court pride -- damaged seriously this season by five losses -- against a badly battered Morgan squad that was looking for one big win to ease the pain from a 4-21 season.

The victory moved Coppin (12-14, 12-5 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) into a first-place tie with South Carolina State in the conference. Bethune-Cookman and Norfolk State are tied for second at 11-5.

For the first 20 minutes last night, it was mostly all 5-foot-9 senior guard Jimmy Fields and the Bears (4-21, 4-11) who stunned the favored Eagles (12-14, 12-5) by jumping off to a 37-28 lead.

An intense Fields has seldom been better than he was in the first half, as he made no-look passes, dunked, hit three three-pointers and tossed a perfect alley-oop pass to Michael Canady for a vicious slam-dunk.

But the game changed when Coppin coach Fang Mitchell walked into the locker room at halftime for a stern 13-minute lecture.

An angry Mitchell chided his players about a lack of aggressive ness and defensive intensity and the prospect of Morgan having bragging rights with two victories in one season.

"You know how much talking Morgan is going to do if they win one game; imagine if they win two," Mitchell told his players. "We had to go out and find Jimmy Fields wherever he was on the court and take him out of the game offensively. We did that. Jimmy was like a little lost boy from us in the first half."

Fields scored 14 in the first half and wound up with a game-high 25 points, but he was on the verge of breaking down during a post-game interview session. Fields had wanted to win badly in the final game of his career against Coppin.

"It hurts a lot, but I do want to win every game," said Fields who also had five assists and two steals. "They found me in the second half, and they were a lot more aggressive than we were."

Morgan coach Chris Fuller said Fields had nothing to be ashamed of his performance.

"We just didn't have enough help for Jimmy again," Fuller said. "This looked like the same Morgan team I've been watching all year. We've just got too many young players. I'll tell you what, though, I'd go to war with Jimmy Fields anyday. He gave it everything out there tonight."

However, Fields was overwhelmed in the second half by a Coppin offensive assault that featured all five starters scoring 13 or more points, led by Kofi Pointer's 20 points and Michael Poster's 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Joe Brown and Jorge Cajigas each scored 14 and Rasheem Sims had 13. Sims was a lot more than a scorer as he handed out a game-high 10 assists for the Coppin offense in the second half.

Cajigas said, "We were asleep in the first half and let Fields do a lot of good things. We can't let that happen again."

Pointer said the main thing was winning the Coppin fans over last night.

"It's been a long year for them, and they had a rough first half with those Morgan fans doing all that yelling," he said. "But they finally had something to cheer about in the second half."

The second-half Coppin run changed Mitchell's entire outlook after the game.

"That is the way I've been wanting us to play all year," said Mitchell. "I hope we've finally arrived to a point where we can do this on a consistent basis. It hasn't happened that much yet this season."

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