RICHMOND, Va. - In a game with an ugly imprint all over it, Coppin State was eliminated from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference men's basketball tournament last night at the Richmond Coliseum.
Coppin and second-seeded Delaware State slugged it out defensively most of the way until the Hornets finally found a productive shooter and pulled away to a 54-45 quarterfinal victory.
Futility on offense was the earmark of their third meeting this season, all won by Delaware State (16-12).
Even the return of point guard Rasheem Sims could not invigorate the Coppin attack, which has struggled all season. The Eagles entered as the poorest shooting team in the league and lived up to their statistics.
Coppin (6-25) was down 17 points with three minutes to play, but hit three late three-pointers to make the score more respectable.
While the Eagles couldn't find a hot hand in a game that was 18-17 at halftime, Delaware State located its man in James Bowen (Archbishop Spalding).
With the score 22-21, Bowen went on a tear with 11 straight Hornets points, including three three-pointers, then added a shot from beyond the arc after a basket by teammate Andre Matthews, the All-MEAC forward.
That helped Delaware State build a 38-25 cushion and virtually decided the game because of the way Coppin State was shooting (30.6 percent for the night).
"Miles [Davis] penetrated and gave me open looks on most of those three-pointers," said Bowen, who tied Matthews for team high with 14 points. "Most of them were wide-open."
"We won the ballgame because of the way we were able to defend them," said Delaware State coach Greg Jackson. "We knew if we could keep it in the 50s we had an excellent chance. The kids executed the game plan well."
Senior Larry Tucker (Dunbar) pounded away inside in typical fashion to score a game-high 18 points for the Eagles, who received almost no other input inside and suffered from an off-game by Jimmy Boykin (1-for-7, six points), who had averaged 18.1 points his previous eight games.
"We missed a lot of easy ones early and that hurt our confidence," Coppin coach Fang Mitchell said. "You have to hit shots and we didn't and that caused our downfall. They hit some big ones and got a lift."
The loss broke the Eagles' three-game winning streak since point guard Sims returned from a broken foot.
It marked the first time Delaware State has ever beaten Coppin in the tournament.
It was a historic year for the Hornets in the series. Earlier they broke a 20-game losing streak to Coppin at home. And in the second game, Delaware State scored its first win at the Coppin Center since 1986.
COPPIN STATE-Sims 1-6 0-0 3, Cagle 3-6 1-2 8, Tucker 7-18 2-4 18, Boykin 1-7 4-4 6, Colter 0-1 1-2 1, Smith 0-1 0-0 0, Poster 3-7 1-2 8, Huff 0-2 1-2 1, Wright 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 15-49 10-16 45.
DELAWARE STATE-Hightower 0-0 0-0 0, Davis 2-5 5-6 10, Bailey 2-8 4-4 9, Matthews 4-8 6-10 14, Stephanenkov 1-6 2-2 5, Bowen 4-5 2-2 14, Johnson 0-1 0-0 0, Dent 1-5 0-0 2, Parker 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-38 19-24 54.
Half: Delaware State, 18-17. 3-point goals: CS 5-16 (Tucker 2-4, Cagle 1-2, Sims 1-3, Poster 1-4, Boykin 0-3); DS 7-20 (Bowen 4-5, Davis 1-4, Stephanenkov 1-4, Bailey 1-5, Johnson 0-1, Dent 0-1). Rebounds: CS 32 (Boykin, Sims, Tucker 5); DS 32 (Matthews, Stephanenkov 9). Assists: CS 5 (Sims 4); DS 11 (Davis 4). Total fouls: CS 21, DS 17. Fouled out: Boykin. A: n/a.