Woes worsen for Coppin in loss to Del. State

Hornets' 57-46 win ends 20-game skid to Eagles

College Basketball

January 06, 2002|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

DOVER, Del. - Everywhere the Coppin State basketball team has traveled on its current 10-game odyssey, it has rained.

Yesterday, the skies were clear at Delaware State, but it poured.

For the first time since Feb. 5, 1992, the Hornets defeated Coppin, building a 15-point first-half advantage and proceeding to a 57-46 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference victory before 1,564.

The result was symbolic of the troubles besetting the Eagles, who are missing their senior leadership, with point guard Rasheem Sims out for at least another month because of a broken foot, and lacking bench strength after the dismissal from the team of Donnell Thomas and LeMar Ruffin for violating team rules.

Coppin (3-12, 1-3) had beaten Delaware State 20 straight times and, overall, coach Fang Mitchell was 30-2 in the series.

"We just did a terrible job of playing defense in the first half and gave them too many good opportunities," said Mitchell, who said he had no knowledge of the streak. "They just outhustled us the whole game. In that situation, there's no way you can win."

Said Hornets second-year coach Greg Jackson: "I was aware that it had been a long time since Delaware State had won. I think this was satisfying for the staff and administration that's been here, but I wasn't part of that history."

Because the bus carrying the Coppin women's team broke down in Aberdeen, the opener of the doubleheader was delayed. The men's game started 1 1/2 hours later than scheduled.

When the tipoff came, Delaware State (5-7, 2-1) was primed for its first home game since Nov. 16.

"We wanted to try to pick up the intensity level," said Jackson. "In the previous couple of games, we played with no drive ... Today, we were ready."

The shortest player on the floor, 5-foot-5 Miles Davis, jazzed up the opening minutes with three three-pointers after moving to shooting guard from the point.

As a result, the Hornets shot ahead while Coppin struggled with its season-long problem - finding capable shooters. By the break, Delaware State had six three-pointers and was comfortably in command.

Coppin answered with a surge at the start of the second half as the attack shifted inside to 6-11 Terek Wright and 6-10 DeMond Huff. While the Hornets went 0-for-9 from the field, the Eagles cut the deficit to 40-37.

Delaware State responded with a 12-0 run to effectively blunt the counterattack and the Eagles were assured of their fifth straight loss and 11th in 12 games.

Larry Tucker (Dunbar), averaging 18 points since Sims was shelved, finished with 17.

It marked the first time since 1990 that the Eagles have been held below 50 points.

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