Coppin finds home advantage vs. Aggies

Eagles top N.C. A&T, 71-65, for first win on own court

January 16, 2001|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

The law of averages finally caught up with the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference last night at the Coppin Center.

Practically invincible on its own court in the 1990s, Coppin State had been laboring at home all season before rallying in the second half and then holding off North Carolina A&T State, 71-65, to end an eight-game losing streak.

It was the Eagles' first victory at the Coppin Center this season after five consecutive defeats, the longest skid at home for the team since the facility opened in 1987. Coppin had not won since Dec. 4.

The Aggies almost dampened the celebration, closing to 66-65 with 1:51 remaining before missing their final three shot attempts. Two free throws by Larry Tucker and a three-point play by Rasheem Sims with 11 seconds to go stowed it away for Coppin (5-10, 3-4).

Coppin has now beaten North Carolina A&T in eight of their last nine meetings.

"It looked like the first half [which ended with the Aggies ahead by seven], we were pressing a little bit," Eagles coach Fang Mitchell said. "I think we understood how important it was to get a victory. I classify that as being emotionally drunk. The second half, we settled down and took control. The leaders of the team stepped up."

North Carolina A&T (5-7, 2-2) surrendered the lead when Tucker sank two free throws with 11:30 left during an 11-0 Coppin run.

But the Aggies came back behind the three-point shooting of J. J. Miller and the rebounding and scoring of Bruce Jenkins.

Coppin used enough big offensive plays to fend off the charge, with Michael Poster scoring on a four-point play, Sims on a conventional three-point play and Tucker pitching in all 14 of his points in the second half.

Tucker said Mitchell did not deliver a big halftime lecture or pep talk.

"It was more about what we had to do to get a win. He had lectured the last four games and it didn't work," he said.

Sims' driving basket and a free throw after a foul by Tarrell Robinson was the clincher, as Coppin stretched the Aggies' losing streak on the road to six."[The three-point play] was a situation in which I might have passed off," Sims said. "But it was time to take charge and take it myself."

The Aggies' second-year coach, Curtis Hunter, said he believed his team played well enough to win but committed "a lot of mental mistakes to let them back in the game.""... We just made a lot of silly errors. At this level, you have to have it up here every night," he said, pointing to his head.

NORTH CAROLINA A&T - Robinson 1-5 0-1 2, Jenkins 8-17 1-3 17, Taalib 2-8 6-6 10, Miller 7-15 2-2 22, Debro 4-11 0-2 9, Jackson 0-4 0-0 0, Beckwith 0-1 2-2 2, Dukes 1-3 0-0 3, Traore 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 23-66 11-16 65.

COPPIN STATE - Poster 4-12 3-6 13, Tucker 5-12 4-4 14, Wright 0-2 0-0 0, Sims 4-8 5-5 13, Nieves 1-4 0-0 3, Perez 1-4 0-0 3, Huff 2-6 0-2 4, Thomas 1-4 1-2 3, Brown 6-14 5-7 19. Totals 24-66 18-26 71. Halftime-North Carolina A&T, 32-25. 3-point goals-N.C. A&T 8-20 (Miller 6-10, Dukes 1-2, Debro 1-6, Jackson 0-1, Beckwith 0-1); Coppin 5-15 (Nieves 1-2, Brown 2-5, Poster 2-7, Sims 0-1). Fouled out-Taalib. Rebounds-N.C A&T 47 (Jenkins 13); Coppin 45 (Huff 9). Assists-N.C. A&T 11 (Miller 5); Coppin 10 (Sims 6). Total fouls-N.C. A&T 21; Coppin 17. A-510.

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