Coppin's pain intensifies: 67-65 loss

Eagles look like winners, but Delaware State rally runs slide to 14 straight

Basketball

February 10, 2002|By Bo Smolka | Bo Smolka,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

For most of its game against Delaware State yesterday, Coppin State bore little resemblance to a team suffering through its first 20-loss season.

But in the final six minutes, with a patchwork lineup led by a player serving emergency duty as a point guard, the Eagles' otherwise strong effort came unglued and Delaware State rallied for a 67-65 win before a Coppin Center homecoming crowd of 1,081.

Delaware State's Andre Matthews scored the game-winning basket with four seconds left, and the Hornets preserved the win - their first at the Coppin Center in 15 tries - by intercepting Coppin's inbounds pass.

The loss was the 14th in a row for the Eagles (3-21, 1-12 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference), the longest single-season skid in their history.

For much of the game, it appeared the losing streak would end. On the strength of superb three-point shooting by Jimmy Boykins (career-high 24 points) and solid rebounding, Coppin built a 12-point first-half lead and held a 52-42 advantage with 10:53 to play.

Delaware State (12-9, 9-3), closing in on its first winning season since 1990-91, rallied behind strong perimeter shooting and pressure defense that disrupted Coppin point guard Robert Smith.

Marty Bailey (21 points) scored 10 straight Hornets points midway through the second half, and his three-pointer with 8:15 left cut Coppin's lead to 58-52. That began a 14-1 Delaware State run that gave the Hornets a 63-59 lead.

In the midst of that stretch, with 6:15 left, Coppin lost Smith after he came down awkwardly on his right ankle fighting for a rebound. The depleted Eagles, who have played since late December without all-league point guard Rasheem Sims, were left with swingman Drew Cagle to run the offense for the final six minutes.

Smith briefly attempted to return, but was hobbling badly and left the game for good shortly thereafter."[Cagle] was put in a situation that was very difficult for him," Coppin coach Fang Mitchell said. "He's never played point guard before in his life."

Still, the Eagles had some fight left. Larry Tucker (12 points) scored in the lane with 1:53 left to get Coppin to within 63-62, but Matthews answered with a tip-in with 52 seconds left. Boykin's sixth three-pointer of the game then drew Coppin even at 65 with 38 seconds to play.

Following a timeout, Delaware State opted to let the clock run and play for one shot. Sergey Stephanenkov drove from the right corner and fed the ball underneath to Matthews, who put in a layup with four seconds left.

The win gave Delaware State a season sweep of Coppin for the first time since 1985-86.

"I saw some growth today," Mitchell said, "but the thing that's lacking is we still don't know how to win. Until we learn to win, and to execute down the stretch, we're going to struggle like we did tonight."

DELAWARE STATE-Davis 2-6 0-0 6, Bailey 6-13 4-5 21, Matthews 6-9 0-0 12, Stephanenkov 2 -7 2-4 9, Robinson 0-2 0-2 0, Bowen 2-8 0-0 6, Walker 1-1 3-4 5, Nathaniel 0-0 0 -0 0, Hightower 3-5 1-3 9, Dent 0-2 0-0 0, Parker 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-54 10-18 67. COPPIN STATE-Smith 1-4 3-7 6, Cagle 4-8 1-3 9, Tucker 2-10 8-8 12, Boykin 8-13 2-3 24, Colter 1-4 2-2 4, Poster 2-6 0-1 4, Huff 2-5 0-1 4, Wright 1-1 0-1 2. Totals 21-54 16-26 65.

Halftime-Coppin St.34, Delaware St. 27. 3-point goals-Delaware St. 13-33 (Bailey 5-11. Hightwoer 2-3, Davis 2-6, Stephanenkov 2-6, Bowen 2-7), Coppin St. 7-13 (Boykin 6-8, Smith 1-3, Colter 0-1, Poster 0-1). Fouled out-none. Rebounds-Delaware St. 33 (Matthews 7), Coppin St. 39 (Colter 9). Assists-Delaware St. 17 (Davis, Stephanenkov 3 each), Coppin St. 9 (Smith 5). Total Fouls-Delaware St. 19, Coppin St. 17. A-1,081.

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