Coppin women apply pressure in 68-58 win

Wills, Muir score 17 each

defense stifles Mount

College Basketball

November 25, 2001|By Bo Smolka | Bo Smolka,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Coppin State women proved two things in their home opener against Mount St. Mary's yesterday: LaKesha Wills is back, and the future of the Eagles' program is in good hands with three impressive freshmen guards.

Wills, an All-Metro pick at Dunbar two years ago who was academically ineligible as a Coppin freshman last year, scored 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds as the Eagles (1-1) pulled away to a 68-58 win over the Mountaineers (1-2).

Shannon Muir (Pallotti) added 17 points off the bench, and freshman guard Denita Plain scored 13. Plain and fellow freshmen guards Jeaneen White and Courtni Strickland also wreaked havoc on the Mountaineers defensively.

Center Beth Foster scored 11 points and grabbed a career-best 16 rebounds for Mount St. Mary's, but the Mountaineers were undone by 35 turnovers and an eight-minute stretch of the second half in which they went without a field goal.

"The turnovers killed us," Mount coach Vanessa Blair said. "From the beginning of the game, we just had too much emotion and never really settled down."

"We knew that our forte would be defense," Coppin coach Derek Brown said. "We have some quick people on the wings, and we have to take advantage of that. Today we did that. [Our guards] did an excellent job playing the passing lanes and putting pressure on their wings."

Coppin jumped to an 18-7 lead behind Muir, who had eight points, including a pair of three-pointers, in the first eight minutes.

Mount St. Mary's mustered a late first-half rally behind Foster after Coppin center Jackie Johnson-Stewart, the Eagles' top returning scorer from last year, ran into foul trouble.

Coming off a 22-point performance against UMBC, Foster was held scoreless for the game's first nine minutes, but she scored five points with Johnson-Stewart on the bench, and her layup with 3:05 left in the half cut Coppin's lead to 30-29.

Johnson-Stewart picked up her third foul late in the first half and was limited to 18 minutes overall, but the 5-foot-11 Wills picked up the slack inside for the Eagles.

"I still think I'm a little bit rusty, but I'm getting there," Wills said.

After Mount St. Mary's took a 38-37 lead, its first since the opening minute, Wills converted a 2-on-1 with Plain for a 39-38 lead with 15:18 left.

Mount St. Mary's retied the game at 43 on a three-pointer by Myriam Baccouche, but then the Eagles' pressure defense took over.

Nakeisha Williams and Strickland converted steals into layups to spark a 6-0 run that put Coppin ahead for good 49-43.

The Mount, which closed out a comeback win over UMBC on Tuesday with an 18-5 run, could muster no such charge this time.

MOUNT ST. MARY'S-Harris 3-13 2-3 9, Kokotajlo 4-10 1-1 11, Fobbs 2-7 3-5 7, Foster 5-11 1-2 11, Hegge 0 0-0 0, Bogart 2-4 0-1 4, Walton 1-1 0-0 3, Baccouche 3-5 0-0 7, Long 2-7 1-2 5, Wike 0-3 1-2 1. Totals 22-61 9-16 58. COPPIN STATE-Plain 5-7 3-4 13, White 2-3 0-1 4, Reese 0-5 1-2 1, Wills 6-11 5-6 17, Johnson-Stewart 2-3 0-4 4, Lewis 0-0 0-0 0, Williams 2-2 0-0 4, Strickland 3-9 2-2 8, Singleterry 0-4 0-0 0, Muir 6-12 2-3 17, Harry 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 26-59 13-20 68. Halftime-Coppin State, 34-32. 3-point goals-Mount St. Mary's 5-10 (Harris 1-3, Kokotajlo 2-4, Walton 1-1, Baccouche 1-2), Coppin State 3-9 (Plain 0-1, Strickland 0-1, Muir 3-7). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-Mount St. Mary's 41 (Foster 16), Coppin State 40 (Muir 8). Assists-Mount St. Mary's 9 (Fobbs 3), Coppin State 11 (Strickland 4). Total fouls-Mount St. Mary's 20, Coppin State 22. A-243.

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