Coppin St. knocked out in MEAC quarters, 78-66

Norfolk St. gives Eagles 1st losing year since '87-88

March 09, 2001|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

RICHMOND, Va. - Courtesy of an unusually high number of layups and tip-ins, Norfolk State defeated Coppin State, 78-66, in the quarterfinals of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament at Richmond Coliseum last night.

The loss ended the season and gave Coppin (13-15) its first losing record since 1987-88, coach Fang Mitchell's second season.

"I thought that we ran into a very determined team tonight," Mitchell said. "They [the Spartans] were ready to meet the challenge."

After a close first half, the Spartans dominated the second half, leading by as many as 18 points.

Joe Brown, playing in his final game for Coppin, scored a team-high 22 points.

"I didn't accomplish what I set out to accomplish," Brown said. "It hurts even more knowing that we didn't come out and give it our all. We didn't play to our potential.

"I thought our defense was a lot better, but we reverted back to how we started off at the beginning of the season. We didn't execute what the coaches were talking about."

The Spartans led 33-28 at halftime behind a 12-point effort off the bench from Michael Boyd. Norfolk found holes in the Coppin defense, converting a number of layups and tip-ins.

"We didn't do the things as far as playing the defense we're capable of," Mitchell said. "Anytime a team shoots 53 percent against you, you know you have problems, especially in the rebounding area where they got decent shots.

"Basketball is a game where you try to take away easy baskets. Their transition baskets and second-shot points just created a problem for us all night long."

Forward Larry Tucker scored the first four points of the game for Coppin before picking up his second foul three minutes in. That forced Tucker out for much of the remainder of the half, and the Spartans took their first lead at 12-10 on a Boyd put-back with nine minutes left in the half.

Three minutes later, Norfolk put together the game's first run, scoring 10 of the next 12 points to take a 26-18 lead with 4:39 remaining.

But Coppin used a Michael Poster three-pointer, a fast-break dunk by All-MEAC selection Joe Brown and a free throw by Brown to cut the lead to 30-26. Brown finished with nine points in the half.

Coppin started the second half in much the same manner it ended the first, giving up easy shots to the Spartans. During one three-possession span, Norfolk guard Terrance Winston stole the ball for a breakaway layup, Jamal Mills scored on a dunk, and Darrell Neal was fouled in the paint, making one of two free throws to give the Spartans their biggest lead, 45-36, five minutes into the half.

Things got worse for Coppin on offense when 6-foot-11 center Terek Wright fouled out with 7:11 left. Wright had scored the last six points for Coppin in the paint.

But Wright committed his fifth foul, and the Eagles were unable to find someone to fill the void.

Coppin and Norfolk were the last two teams to begin play in the tournament. It was a 66-60 win last week over Morgan State that kept Coppin from playing in the first round of the tournament.

Norfolk won both regular-season games, by 11 and nine, and has won the past four meetings against Coppin. The Spartans have won three games overall, including wins over No. 1 seed Hampton and No. 2 seed South Carolina State to finish the regular season.

"I think they had some added confidence because of the fact they beat us twice," Mitchell said. "Sometimes you just have those matchups that are just bad matchups for certain teams. I definitely looked at Norfolk being a bad matchup for us."

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