Tuning up, Coppin rips Howard, 108-65

Looking ready for tourney, Eagles seal at least 2nd seed

March 04, 2000|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Coppin State coach Fang Mitchell's team wrapped up at least the No. 2 seed for next week's Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament with a 108-65 win over Howard.

It is a seeding that could easily move up to the top spot if North Carolina A&T beats South Carolina State today. But that was not something Mitchell was thinking about before, during or after last night's game at the Coppin Center.

In fact, Mitchell does not plan to pay too much, if any, attention to the game today. "I'm going recruiting," Mitchell said.

"I think the most important thing is how we play. I think we will dictate our destiny. When those games are played and we are seeded, whoever we play against will be a tough game no matter what."

That much is probably true. It is also safe to say that the Eagles (13-14, 13-5 in MEAC) will meet more resistance in the tournament than the Bison (1-26, 1-17) put up last night.

The Eagles came out on a 23-9 run led by senior guard Jorge Cajigas, who finished his final home game with a game-high 24 points on six three-pointers.

Two of his threes came at the end of the first half, turning a 16-point lead into a 45-23 bulge.

"We needed this win to get that good feeling going into the tournament," Cajigas said. "The guys were pretty happy. I hope this helps us do what we are supposed to do in the tournament."

That would be to not have a repeat of what happened last year, an opening-game loss to Florida A&M. The Eagles looked ready for any MEAC team last night, especially on the defensive end, where they held the Bison to 37 percent shooting.

The offense was just as impressive, scoring its most points since putting up 119 in its 1995-96 season opener against Lincoln (Pa.). Five players scored in double figures for the Eagles.

"We had Jorge on fire, hitting shots on the offensive end, and that just created good situations for us," Mitchell said.

The Eagles also dominated in the paint, out-rebounding Howard 50-25. Fifteen came from center Tyran Watkins, who also played his final Eagles home game.

Mitchell said: "We can't take anybody for granted, and we couldn't take Howard for granted. We are going into the tournament on a positive note."

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