Coppin advances to championship game

Eagles outscore Hampton by 8-0 over last 3 minutes to pull out 64-60 victory

MEAC men

March 11, 2000|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

RICHMOND, Va. -- Kofi Pointer scored on a follow of Joe Brown's missed shot with a little more than a minute left to give Coppin State the lead for good in a 64-60 win over Hampton last night in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament semifinals at Richmond Coliseum.

Pointer's basket with 1: 07 left was followed by Brown's layup with 12 seconds remaining to seal the victory over the Pirates, who were outscored 8-0 over the final three minutes.

The Eagles moved on to today's 7 p.m. championship game against South Carolina State. Coppin split with the Bulldogs in the regular season, winning by 15 in Orangeburg, S.C., on Dec. 4 and losing by the margin of a last-second layup on Jan. 29.

Since then, Coppin has won nine of 10 games.

Because of the length of the game that preceded it, Coppin-Hampton began an hour late. Both teams came out shooting as if they were running behind, launching long-range jumpers over the first four minutes as if the chances might not come again.

Coppin went 2-for-10 in the early going and struggled against Hampton's defensive pressure (three quick turnovers), falling behind 12-6 when Mohamed Woni hit a three-pointer at 14: 55.

In the next three minutes, the Eagles applied a little pressure of their own to get back into the game.

Brown set up two of the scores with steals during an 8-0 Coppin run as the Eagles took a 14-12 lead with 11: 19 remaining in the first half.

After scoring 20 points in the second half of Wednesday night's win over Maryland-Eastern Shore, Brown had 12 points in the first half last night.

Four others Eagles scored, among them Jorge Cajigas, whose three-pointer gave Coppin its biggest lead, 24-21, with 5: 20 left.

On defense, Coppin was able to limit the scoring damage done by Marseilles Brown after his 32-point performance against North Carolina A&T on Thursday.

Still, Marseilles Brown had five assists in the half and the Eagles couldn't contain Hampton's other weapons, particularly Woni and Tarvis Williams, who combined for 14 of the Pirates' 30 first-half points.

Baskets by Woni and Williams -- along with a Williams free throw -- figured largely in a 9-2 run that put Hampton up 30-26 at halftime, a slim margin considering Coppin's 11 first-half turnovers and 31.4-percent shooting.

Out of the break, the Eagles outscored the Pirates 9-2 to take a 35-32 lead on a Rasheem Sims three-pointer with 16: 23 left in the game. Seven of Coppin's points came immediately after Hampton turnovers or missed shots.

Hampton continued to push the ball inside, resulting in foul trouble for Michael Poster and Pointer. Pointer, victimized by Williams for a basket and foul just 30 seconds earlier, picked up his fourth foul with 15: 34 remaining and Coppin leading 36-32.

Then, with Tyran Watkins as the main defense inside, Williams went to work for eight of the points in a 12-2 Hampton run that made the score 44-38 on a turnaround jumper at the 10: 35 mark.

With Pointer on the bench for eight minutes, the Eagles got offensive contributions from Sims and Larry Tucker, but fell prey to another spurt by Hampton that put them behind 52-45 on a Brown layup with 8: 11 left.

"They recognized that the game was in a dangerous period," Coppin coach Fang Mitchell said. "We talked about taking one step at a time."

Shortly thereafter, Pointer returned, and Cajigas hit for five points as Coppin scored seven straight to tie the game at 52.

Tucker continued to figure in the outcome, scoring six points over a four-minute span, including a jumper to tie the game at 60 with 2: 33 left. He ended up with 12 points and made a key block on Woni late in the game.

"Against Eastern Shore, I wasn't much of a factor," Tucker said. "I knew that I wasn't doing what I was capable of. So tonight, I was totally about being determined."

"It was a game of peaks and valleys," added Mitchell. "I see it as a situation where these guys didn't want to give up."

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