Coppin's big freeze locks up Del. State for 50-39 victory

Eagles' defense tells tale in 1st-place performance

College Basketball

February 15, 2004|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

For nearly 18 1/2 minutes last night, Coppin State played the suffocating defense that made the team the scourge of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in the 1990s.

Delaware State strained on every offensive possession to get good looks at the basket, forcing up air balls, turning over the ball and generally facing a world of frustration.

In the lengthy period from the start of the second half until 1:37 remained in the game, the Hornets managed one field goal - on a rare fast break - as Coppin pulled away determinedly to a 50-39 victory and undisputed possession of first place in the MEAC.

With previous co-leader South Carolina State idle yesterday, Coppin (12-12, 10-3) took over first by a half game.

"I'm a strong believer in defense and that became the key. We stopped them for a long period," said Eagles coach Fang Mitchell.

The 39 points by the Hornets were the lowest total against a Coppin team since 1981, when the Eagles outlasted the University of the District of Columbia, 27-26, in the season finale.

And perhaps the genesis of the Eagles' overpowering defense was established only 1:20 into the game.

Delaware State (8-12, 7-5) took a 3-0 lead on an open three-pointer by Jahsha Bluntt, and an infuriated Mitchell immediately called a timeout.

"That was all about being focused," he said. "When you start off by not reacting to what you're supposed to, you have to correct it. We talked about understanding where their scorers were."

The results were not immediately noticeable, but after Coppin eased into a two-point halftime lead, the defense became impenetrable.

"They made the tempo kind of slow," said the Eagles' Jimmy Boykin. "It was stop, get a basket and stop some more. So we had to step up our defense better than theirs in the second half."

Mission accomplished. While Kelvin Green supplied most of the offense (21 points), Coppin's combination of man-to-man, zone and matchup held the Hornets to a breakaway by Carlos Hawkins and four free throws until Coppin had a 19-point lead.

No Hornet reached double figures as Coppin avenged a 67-60 defeat at Delaware State when the Eagles scored three points in the final 10 1/2 minutes.

DELAWARE STATE - Hunter 0-3 0-0 0, Williams 3-7 2-2 9, Bluntt 3-9 1-2 9, Toth 0-3 0-0 0, Matthews 0-3 0-0 0, Roundtree 0-0 2-2 2, Nathaniel 0-0 1-2 1, Davis 0-0 1-2 1, Hawkins 3-5 1-2 7, Postell 2-4 3-3 7, Miji 1-5 0-0 3. Totals 12-39 11-15 39. COPPIN STATE - Yates 1-3 0-0 2, King 3-4 0-0 7, Boykin 1-5 0-0 2, Scott 2-7 3-6 8, Colter 1-4 2-2 4, Otis 1-2 0-0 3, Muhammad 0-2 0-0 0, Jones 1-3 1-3 3, Green 5-8 8-8 21. Totals 15-38 14-19 50. Half - Coppin State, 26-24. 3-point goals - Delaware St. 4-17 (Hunter 0-2, Williams 1-1, Bluntt 2-7, Toth 0-1, Matthews 0-1, Hawkins 0-1, Miji 1-4), Coppin St. 6-16 (King 1-2, Boykin 0-4, Scott 1-3, Otis 1-2, Jones 0-1, Green 3-4). Rebounds - Delaware St. 26 (Hunter 6), Coppin St. 29 (Colter 6). Assists - Delaware St. 4 (Williams 2), Coppin St. 5 (Jones 2). A - 1,410.

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