Coppin women off target, but beat Morgan anyway

Defense, free throws pave way for Lady Eagles, 54-49

November 29, 2001|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

Coppin State women's basketball coach Derek Brown knows that 26 percent shooting will not translate into many victories for his team this year.

But it was good enough last night as the Lady Eagles relied primarily on their defense and foul shooting to record a 54-49 victory over rival Morgan State in the Lady Bears' home opener at Hill Field House.

It was also the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) opener for both teams.

"A Morgan-Coppin game is a rivalry game, and they rarely turn out the way you expect them to," said Brown. "You've got to put a lot of hustle into it, and take the opportunities when they come."

The Lady Eagles made just 17 of 66 shots. Most of their opportunities came from the foul line, where they were 19-for-33. Coppin senior forward Jackie Johnson-Stewart was 9 of 14 from the line, and led all scorers with 17 points. She also contributed a team-high 10 rebounds.

Meanwhile, the Lady Bears (0-5) never found their rhythm on offense. They committed 34 turnovers and shot just 26 percent from the field in the first half.

"Our offense wasn't clicking until the second half," said Morgan coach Gerard Garlic. "Coppin State plays very good defense. They were in the passing lanes and they rebounded well."

Coppin (2-2) had a 14-point lead after a first half that featured poor shooting and few points, but plenty of fouls and turnovers, and the Lady Eagles were never seriously threatened in the second.

The Lady Bears did cut the lead to 48-43 on a putback by senior Calibra Alston (eight points, 14 rebounds) with just under two minutes to play, and senior Zakiya Gardner later hit an outside jumper to answer Denita Plain's two free throws and make it 50-45.

But Coppin senior Shannon Muir (14 points) scored on a putback and then hit a free throw in the last minute to put Morgan away and to tie the all-time series at 19.

"Even if we're not too hot on the offensive end, like we were tonight, the coaches stress that defense can win games," said Johnson-Stewart.

The teams combined for 24 fouls and 29 turnovers in the first half, at which point Coppin led 29-15. The Lady Bears alone had 20 first-half turnovers, and the Lady Eagles took advantage, despite shooting just 22 percent from the field in the first period.

Coppin ended the first half on a 19-5 run, with Muir scoring eight of those points from off the bench.

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