Towson holds off Coppin, 57-54

16-0 spurt, Gilchrist's 16 put losing streak in past

November 22, 2003|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Towson and Coppin State ended last season headed in opposite directions.

In the second game of last night's Battle of Baltimore, it was apparent that plenty had changed.

After finishing last season with 14 straight losses - their longest such streak in a quarter-century at the Division I level - the host Tigers used a 16-0 run to erase an 11-point second-half deficit, then held on for a 57-54 win before 2,305 at the Towson Center.

"It definitely lifts [the streak] off our shoulders," said sophomore forward Cilk McSweeney. "We definitely wanted to come in here and win this tonight."

Towson (1-0) will face three-time defending tournament champion UMBC in tonight's (8 p.m.) championship game. Coppin (1-3) will face Loyola in the 5:30 consolation.

Led by point guard Jamaal Gilchrist (16 points), the Tigers outscored the Eagles 25-6 during a pivotal nine-minute stretch midway through the second half, erasing a 34-23 deficit.

"We just kept fighting and never gave up," said Gilchrist. "We felt that if we could keep getting the stops, the offensive end would come into play."

Despite shooting just 32 percent for the game, and 11-for-28 from three-point range, Coppin cut the lead to three on Jimmy Boykin's three-pointer with 36 seconds left. The Eagles then forced a turnover to give themselves one last chance.

With three seconds left, however, Nicholas King's three-pointer from the top of the arc hit off the front of the rim and bounced away.

Boykin, a preseason All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference first team guard, scored a game-high 23. King added 14.

Facing a starting lineup that included three freshmen, Coppin built a 30-19 lead with 13:24 to play after ending the first half by scoring seven of nine and beginning the second with seven straight points.

Led by veterans Gilchrist and Tony Dixon (seven points, 10 rebounds), however, Towson soon gained control of the game, mainly by getting to the foul line, where it outscored Coppin 26-9.

"I felt much better with them coming off the bench and stabilizing us," said Tigers coach Michael Hunt. "These guys played a lot last year and suffered through a tough campaign ... but we stuck around this summer and rededicated ourselves.

"One game doesn't make a season, but it was a very positive way for us to start off this year."

COPPIN STATE - King 5-11 0-0 14, Colter 0-0 0-0 0, Norman 1-6 0-0 2, Boykin 6-14 5-6 23, Scott 1-4 0-0 2, Muhammad 2-6 0-0 5, Yates 1-7 3-4 5, Bradley 1-4 1-4 3, Jones 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 17-54 9-14 54. TOWSON - Hamm 2-4 4-6 8, Tubbs 1-5 2-2 4, Goode 1-3 2-3 4, Jackson 1-3 0-0 2, Green 1-6 0-0 2, Dixon 1-3 5-10 7, McSweeney 2-5 2-2 7, Pease 1-2 5-7 7, McCartney 0-2 0-0 0, Plack 0-1 0-0 0, Gilchrist 4-9 6-6 16. Totals 14-43 26-36 57. Half: -Coppin State, 23-19. 3-point goals-Coppin 11-28 (King 4-8, Boykin 6-12, Scott 0-2, Muhammad 1-3, Jones 0-1), Towson 3-13 (Tubbs 0-2, Jackson 0-1, Green 0-3, McSweeney 1-3, Pease 0-1, Gilchrist 2-3). Rebounds Coppin 33 (Yates 9), Towson 41 (Dixon 10). Assists-Coppin 14 (Yates 5), Towson 11 (Gilchrist 3). Total fouls-Coppin 23, Towson 14. Fouled out-Muhammad. A-2,305.

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